I, like so many others, find Christmas to be my most favorite holiday. As an adult preparing for my own children`s holiday, to when I was a child, it has always been a time filled with joy, and spiritual gladness. It awakens all my senses, and brings me back to a more simple way of life. We were taught at any early age, that the figures under the tree weren`t just there to look pretty. They had significant meaning for us. I taught my children this, and now they have taught their`s.
Each year, my mind wanders back to those days, when there was no TV to tempt the eyes of innocent children, that start sometimes, as early as September commercializing a most holy time of year. I`d like to share with you a few of my most memorable Christmas holidays.
The year was 1940, it was the first Christmas after we came back from California. We were still living in Lodi at the time. We called it "up the hill", because it was up the hill from my grandmother`s. That area was nicknamed the "North Pole", I`m not sure why, but everyone used that term. It was a nice old neighborhood, mostly Italian people. Where my grandmother lived, it was mostly Italian and French immigrants.
It was war time, so none of us had much in the line of material things, and money was scarce. Christmas was coming, and surely I had visions of sugar plums dancing in my head. A doll would be nice, oh yes, a big doll! I remember going to bed with great anticipation, in hopes that Saint Nicholas would not forget me. I awakened early, as most children do on Christmas morning, and what to my wandering eyes should appear, was the biggest doll I had ever seen, staring at me from the chair that was in the dining room, which faced my bedroom.
There she was all dressed in a blue outfit, that my mother had made by hand. It had pretty red rick rack all around the edges of the oufit and on that cute hat. I screamed and jumped up and down, yelling, "he came, he came"! I remembered hearing the sound of hoofs on the roof...I really did! Till this day, I wonder what that sound really was....or could it have been.........nah!
My Auntie El took this picture of me
This time of year not only brings memories of visions, and wonderful smells, but also invokes sound. There is a certain sound that you just don`t hear any more. I still can hear it in my mind. I especially remember it when we lived in Garfield, I guess I was 9 or 10 the first time it appealed to me. I would awaken in the morning and just lay there very still, and listen. The familiar clang clang along the cobblestoned street had me filled with anticipation. I slowly crept out of bed and peeked out my window....I saw....
....it had snowed. The sound came from the old cars with chains on the tires. What a delightful sound.
It meant no school, fun, playing in the snow drifts. Ah, what a time. How is it that I could stay out for hours in the cold and never feel it...Guess it`s called youth.
Decorating in my house became a standing joke! My mother and her 3 foot tree, and those red bells she hung in the windows, yes, and the candles with the orange lights. Didn`t mind that, but hated that damn tree! It sat on top of a little round table, that she draped in red. The ornaments were pretty, tho, the old glass balls, and of course, tinsel! I guess I was 16 at the time I decided that I was not having that tree another year!
So, I asked my friend Anne if she would help me pick out a tree, and help me bring it home. So, we set out on my quest, and found this gorgeous, perfect tree. Ok...now time to drag it home. My friend held up one end and I the other. We had no idea it was going to be so heavy!! I think that was the year I learned how to curse!! Finally arriving at my front door, it started to snow lightly, I dramatically looked at Anne, and said, "Merry Christmas". Every year around Christmas time it all comes back to me.
So, I rang the bell and stood there. My mother opened the door and gasped!!
.....she stared at me and that tree, what seemed like an eternity. Then, with a sigh, she reluctantly said,
"Bring it in".
Well the commotion had started. Trying to find a stand, and getting out the ornaments, it was wonderful. My father grinning the whole time. I remember my uncle Frank was visiting at the time. Ok, now it was up and time to decorate....I couldn`t wait! All of a sudden my mother took over, and wouldn`t let any of us touch it! She wanted to decorate it herself. I didn`t argue, I wasn`t going to press my luck. When she finished, it was grand! My tree, my big, glorious, real tree!!! What a sight!
The following year, I was warned well in advance not to try and pull "the tree" stunt again. Ever since, it`s been the same little tree, that I hated....and learned to love too.
My sister Babe was the first grandchild, and my grandmother adored her. Christmas approaching during the depression must have been so hard for them. Wanting to do things for others, but nothing much there to do it with.
Back then, on the boxes of La Rosa spaghetti, were little roses. They were used in place of coupons. If you saved so many, you could redeem them for something they might have needed, or....a Christmas present.
So...grandmother saved a whole bunch of them, and set off with Babe in tow, to the next town away...yes, by foot. They got to the redemption center, and Nonna placed the coupons down and pointed to an adorable crib. I was told the crib was big enough to put my brother Sally in.
Maybe it was Babe`s wish, too...she says it was a Christmas she always remembers as being special.
Here is some thoughts my daughter Amy has on a Christmas she`s always remembered...
....in her own words:
I remember being about 5 years old, tops, when I discovered a bag in my mother's closet. Of course being a kid, I HAD to open it and much to my surprise was a doll. I think it was a "Nancy nurse" doll.
I remember thinking who is that doll for?? Got to be me! Well when am I getting it I thought!!? I remember asking my mother about it and she got mad and said Santa had to drop off some gifts early because there just was too many things for him to deliver in one night. She told me I better be very good and not go back in her closet or he may change his mind and take it back! You can bet I didn't go back in there!
One of my favorite things was our stockings, which of course were always hung by the chimney with care. I had one that actually had my FULL first name, which is Annemarie. My oldest brother and I had the same type of stocking with our names across the top in glitter with a candle on the boot part....kind of old fashion-like. I loved getting the little goodies from the stocking which was usually done last. After all presents were opened one of us would notice the stockings bulging and the fun would start again! I've carried that tradition on with my own kids.
Did I ever tell you what Amy`s profession is?
MY MOTHER & FATHER
THANKS & AWARDS
Thank You Prince G.
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