I don’t know about you but I love to look through old family photos and remember the stories that go with them. I thought that for the next little while I would share some of my Christmas memories with you. And to be honest….I found it hard to write some of these blogs. They made me laugh, made me smile, brought back forgotten memories and sometimes made me cry…a little sad that I have lost my Mom so she isn’t here to share these stories with her Grandchildren and their children. But hopefully one day they will read my stories, and be able to share these memories with me.
My Dad worked for a mining company and was busy working his way up into the Executive offices. He started out as a miner, but it was soon apparent to everyone that he was gifted with leadership and people skills and so up to the offices he was destined. My Mom was a stay at home Mom and she was amazing at it. She made every meal from scratch, baked every day, kept up with laundry and cleaning and her biggest job…taking care of inquisitive me.
We lived in a little upstairs apartment when I was young, I think until I was about 4 or 5 years old. It was in an old Victorian building and we had to climb the stairs on the outside of the building to get to our door. I remember that it was cozy and I used to love to sit in the window and watch the people walk by….I imagined they had amazing lives and were off to do some incredible things. I drive past this building a few times a year now, just to reflect back on those times.
Christmas was my Mom’s jam….she decorated anything that didn’t move and it was all done in traditional reds and golds..one of my sons likely doesn’t know it, but he has adopted the same color scheme as his Grandma. She had little Santa and snowmen figurines everywhere, tied ribbons around lamps shades, hung Christmas cards that were received on strings on the wall, and threw more tinsel on our tree than you would see in a Vegas show…you name it, she did it. She attached a cardboard brick like wall and fireplace to our wall for some ambience behind the tree. Stockings were hung and ready for Santa to fill. She had bought a couple of stuffed Santas that had a red nose that when you turned it , it played “here comes Santa Claus”. And she baked… For days. She made squares, cookies, tarts, pies and a traditional Christmas fruitcake…three tiered in fact. She sprayed fake snow on all of the gifts and wrote personal messages to everyone on every gift. My Mom loved Christmas with all of her heart. I think she really loved the chance it gave her to unleash her creative side.
Some Christmases my Aunt Eleanor, cousin Debbie and my Grandma came for a few days. Aunt Eleanor is my Mom’s sister and Grandma is their mom. Aunt Eleanor was my favorite Aunt…I thought she was cool because she had a job and worked outside of the house…and she was so much fun and so pretty. Debbie was like a sister to me so I loved when they came to stay.
If they weren’t coming, then my Mom, Dad and I headed to Parry Sound to have celebrations with my Dad’s side of the family…and there were a lot of Aunts, Uncles and cousins to celebrate with. In Parry Sound, there was noise and chaos and laughter and soooo much food. Gifts were usually one per child, since there about 15 of us little ones. My Uncle Ian, who was a watch maker and owned the jewelry store in town always let me pick out a pretty bracelet or two as an extra present…I loved him so much. The house always smelled of turkey, and pine tree, and Uncle Ian’s expensive pipe tobacco…I used to go and play with his pipes…not sure why, I just thought they were cool. A sit down dinner was had and by sit down… I mean the adults sat at the table and us children sat on the floor with our plates in the living room. After dinner was singing and some bag pipe playing (there last name is MacDonald) and of course, Scottish dancing. I loved going there for Christmas.
I always wrote my letter to Santa Claus, and Mom and Dad would walk me down to the mailbox to send it off. I waited for the mail to come every day once I sent it off, waiting for Santa to reply and tell me what a good little girl I had been. The letter always came, colorful and filled with praise of my behavior and an assurance that he would leave some gifts for me on Christmas Eve. I guess Santa is a little forgiving of those one or two little misbehaving moments I had.
Milk and Mom’s freshly baked cookies were always laid out on a special Christmas plate and I always left carrots for the reindeer….always have been an animal lover I guess. And Santa and the reindeer must have loved their snack, because it was always gone in the morning.
Christmas was pretty formal back then. As a little girl, I would wake up and put on my housecoat and slippers and then wait for Mom and Dad to wake up. (Do I even own a housecoat now?). They didn’t stay sleeping long because I was super excited to open all of those presents. After breakfast, I changed into a pretty little Christmas dress, white socks and shoes…and Mom did my hair. She patiently used water and her finger to twist my naturally curly hair into ringlets and then attach a festive barrette with a bow on top….I was very pampered…I just didn’t realize it back then.
I guess some of the first Christmas memories I have are in that little apartment. I feel like Aunt Eleanor and Mom coordinated what Santa was bringing, because it seems that Debbie and I each got the same thing…slightly different styles maybe, but the same none the less. This particular year we got dolls, doll carriages and doll high chairs…there were other gifts but I don’t remember them. I have a vague memory of sitting at the little table in the kitchen, enjoying the feast my Mom had prepared for dinner (I am sure Gramma and Aunt Eleanor helped her). I have such great memories of this apartment.
We moved to a little house when I was just about 5 years old. It was a cute house in a tiny town and I loved that I had a backyard to play in and friends to play with. I also got my first dog here….this was a wonderful place to live.
It is here that the dollhouse story took place. Mom and Dad had gone to a Christmas Eve house party and I was left with a babysitter. I went to bed no problem and fell asleep dreaming of Santa. I guess my parents coming home woke me up. I sprung out of bed and ran out of my room. Mom laughed and gently picked me up and took me back to bed, assuring me that Santa had not come just yet. I tried to sleep but could not. Soon I heard noises in the living room…I think it is Santa. I decide to sneak out and watch him put the gifts under the tree. I tiptoe to the living room and see…my Mom and Dad. Mom is sitting on the floor reading a large paper and Dad…well apparently he over partied, because he is attempting to stay sitting upright while assembling a bunch of pieces of tin that are scattered all over the floor. I didn’t know it at the time, but they were trying to assemble my dollhouse. When they had got home from the party, they thought it was a good idea for the dollhouse to be ready to go when I got up Christmas morning and so they unwrapped it, opened the box…and were now way over their heads in the assembly process. Dad happened to look up and see me standing there…freaked out a little…and yelled at me to get back to bed….which I did because my Dad never yelled.
I lay in bed wide awake, until I hear them close their door and go to bed. I wait a little bit…and then I get up, throw on my housecoat (yes its a habit at this point), and head very quietly out to the living room. (I know I was supposed to stay in bed but, I have always been a rebel so I can see that I started out early on this path). The tree is lit, there is a dollhouse, assembled in all of its glory with a big bow on it and a big yellow dog that I had wanted. I picked up the dog and hugged it soooo tight. Then dog and I headed to the big chair in the window and sat there to wait for Mom and Dad to wake up…which will be really painful for Dad, I now realize.
As I look out the window, I remember seeing huge snowflakes slowly falling to the ground. Our neighbors across the street, Mr. and Mrs. Treasure, were up with their tree all lit up. I remember her in a dark green sequined dress and him in a tuxedo. I guess they had been out to a party too. I watched as they danced together in front of the tree. I thought it was the most beautiful thing I had ever seen. I remember it and the feeling it gave me to this day.
Soon I am awakened by Mom…I had fallen asleep in the chair. She assures me that Santa has come and it is now time to see what is waiting under the tree. I run to the dollhouse and then over to my Dad and give him a big hug. He smiles….and asks Mom if she can get him a coffee…and aspirin. (hmmm…I now know what that was for).
As a parent now, I completely understand how my Mom and Dad felt….my husband and I used to wrap the gifts for our kids stockings and put together any gifts that required assembling on Christmas Eve after we had put the children to bed. We shared a few drinks, played Christmas music, had a fire going in the fireplace and occasionally we danced…but always we laughed and smiled at the joy we knew would be on our childrens’ faces. I understand my Dads’ frustration with assembly and his yelling….he didn’t want the surprise to be ruined for me.
Christmas is a time when my family celebrates the season; like so many other folks do. But, we tend to have the spirit of Christmas in our hearts all year. I know that the foundation of love and family that my parents gave to me has been passed on to my children, and to my grandchildren. Never miss a moment to create a memory with those you love…be it at Christmas…but better still…all year long.
This blog post is dedicated to you, Mom…for all of your love, kindness, over the top decorating and for just being beautiful you. I miss you.
Next we head to my Uncle’s farm for the holidays…oh what stories there are to share.
Live your Life…Jan