Christmas Memories

Oyster Stew…. When I was a kid Christmas Eve was always Campbell’s Frozen Oyster Stew… If you were lucky in a family of four two of you got one oyster each. But my mother who believed butter was the solution to nearly everything involved with cooking added enough butter that it made the soup so rich that the lack of meat was not a problem and almost unbelievably in our wealthy society today, oyster crackers were a treat. In my memories oyster crackers were something special in the early 50’s
My father always wrapped in tissue paper. Layer upon layer of tissue paper covered each present so snoopy children couldn’t see through it no matter how hard you tried. The packages were always very carefully and precisely wrapped and opening and re-taping tissue paper doesn’t come out well. My most memorable Christmas present from my youth was a tin garage that was held together with the little foldable razor sharp metal tabs that almost guaranteed that whoever put it together would need a blood transfusion after construction.
Biggest mistake at Christmas would be the year that as a teenager I decided that I didn’t want to go visit the family in Denver and stayed home by myself. My lack of understanding and the loneliness of that time still haunts me.
Tinsel hanging was always done one strand at a time and was hung with care on each individual branch not “thrown” at the tree. Putting on the lights was serious business not left to kids! However you were allowed to string the lights out on the floor to test them before being put on the tree
Christmas tree selection was a process requiring much shaking and discussion most trees appeared to be the tops of pines and spruce that were unusable in lumber production and so became Christmas trees. I can still picture my father drilling holes in the trunk and sticking in branches to fill in holes that even the most carefully hung tinsel could not hide. I can also remember the discussion of which side needed to be against the wall or in the corner. My job was to keep the tree watered
Bayberry candles on the mantel piece
Stockings full of walnuts and oranges… no candy, no presents, no toys…… oranges and walnuts.
Christmas was on Christmas day… no early opening,
Cars with a big red bow on top were not given as a Christmas presents nor were they identified by some commercial jingle that everyone recognized meant that they were getting a car for Christmas
Christmas dinner was a turkey that usually lasted through New Years….. Pumpkin pie came plain no cool whip or whipped cream…. Mince meat pie was also a requirement but even 60 years ago almost no one ate it.
Outside decorations were large bulbs that unfortunately made a nice popping sound when thrown on the concrete in the street
Christmas candy was of the sliced hard rope kind with a little tree in the middle
My best friend got an artificial tree, it was the first one I had ever seen and it was both wonderful and scary at the same time. Silver with a rotating light under it that changed its color every few seconds. I can still picture it in their front window
Fruit cake was a standard long distance gift. We received one from my uncle every year and every year my father would take last years unopened one out of the refrigerator and replace it with the new one.
I didn’t ever get the BB rifle I asked for
Dates and Figs – For some reason dates and figs are associated with Christmas in my mind, I would not eat either now except in a “Fig Newton” but I know I ate them then because they were sweet and we didn’t get many sweet things.
Flash bulbs are associated in my mind with Christmas… the big blue ones for indoor photography. (If you are under 40 years old you may have never seen a flash bulb.
Perhaps the most important part of Christmas was a sense of peace and happiness that I too often find missing in the hustle-bustle business of Christmas today. Perhaps it is just my perceptions that have changed but it seemed different….. Christmas morning, my dad in his pajamas and striped bath robe my mom always with bow from the first package stuck in her hair, it is strange that those are my most clear memories of Christmas long ago, not the presents I got, except for the tin gas station/ garage (it had a working elevator with a hand crank and bell). What, I wonder, will our children and their children remember about Christmas?


About safrisri

I was a school teacher until retirement. I have taught at all educational levels from pre-school to college. My college degree is general science which I arrived at after 5 years and 5 different majors. A degree as it turns out, almost as valuable and in demand as one in Neo-Bulgarian Mythology. I have been around education for around 40 years and can remember when teaching was a pleasant, happy and creative job and our schools were the same. Now I'm the guy sitting on the porch with an opinion on everything.
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