Another Christmas has crept up on us before we knew it! Maybe it’s just that I’m getting older but it sure seems like the time between holidays gets shorter every year.
The week leading up to Christmas was an interesting one weather wise up here. In a matter of 36 hours we went from -25F to +35F. That’s 60 degrees! Think of going from +20 degrees to +80 in that period of time. There was a light dusting of snow Wednesday and a possibility of heavy snow and blizzard conditions Christmas day. Fortunately, I’ll be back home before then.
Last week I had a pleasant visit with a customer reminiscing about Christmas’ past. Both of us are in our mid to late 60’s and had similar fond memories of the holiday. None of the memories were about major Christmas gifts or elaborate celebrations, but more grounded, long lasting memories. The special foods that we only saw at Christmas. Get together’s with family and programs at school and church.
If you were a kid in the 50’s and 60’s it’s pretty hard to forget the hard ‘ribbon’ candy and candy raspberries. Those hard little berry shaped candies with a raspberry flavored jelly filling. In the center of the table at Christmas was always a wooden bowl filled with nuts, a nutcracker and ‘pick’. A tradition we still keep.
At our house food was always central to celebrating the holiday season. The meals were delicious with lots of home canned food. No frozen vegetables or store bought pickles, cakes or pie…no, no. There was homemade fudge, divinity and taffy plus so many foods that weren’t readily available in mid winter back then. Tangerines, Delicious Apples and lots of other fruits we now get from Mexico and South America regularly throughout the winter.
All of the churches and schools had choirs singing Christmas carols and put on plays centered around the holiday theme. In the little country school I went to, one of the area farmers would show up at the end of our Christmas program dressed like Santa Claus handing out small sacks of candy that were much anticipated. I think even the littlest kids could figure out who was in the red suit, but it didn’t seem to make any difference. You believed without questioning.
When I was around 8 or 9, there was still an old ‘ballroom’ on the second floor of one of the downtown stores of my hometown. Now this was a town of around 800 so it wasn’t exactly what you’d think of as a modern ballroom in today’s terms. It was a big open room with a dance floor, a few booths around the perimeter and a small stage up front. They’d set up folding chairs and with a projector borrowed from the school a movie was shown for the kids. At the end of the movie Santa Claus would make his appearance handing out more of the brown bags with hard candy and an apple.
There was a local fella that must have weighed close to 400 pounds that always took to the stage and put on a performance playing a kazoo attached to a short piece of rubber hose and a funnel on the end like a bugle. I guess the funnel helped amplify the sound for our enjoyment. It brings tears to my eyes laughing about that performance and wondering how kids today would take to that type of holiday ‘cheer’. Talk about simpler times!!!
Sometime before Christmas, we usually took a drive around town to check out the Christmas lights. In the back seat of the car we had a blanket to keep warm and tried to avoid breathing so the windows didn’t fog up. No laser light shows or animated decorations synchronized to a sound track that played on your car radio as you drove by. A few simple lights on the house,a decorated tree in the front window or lighted candles on the window sills. Usually the highlight was the huge pine tree on a hill just outside of town. The people that lived there would string lights from top to bottom which was visible for a long way away. The lights were those big candle shaped bulbs in red, blue and green. It was truly an incredible Christmas Tree.
While I can’t really say I’d want to go back to living the way we did back then…. there was something to be said for simpler times and things. Most of us were happy to have what we had. I remember getting a used Erector Set one year that came from a neighbor kid who’d outgrown it. The box was a bit worn and a few pieces were missing but I couldn’t have been any happier if it had been brand new.
The holidays today are probably just as joy filled, but different. No doubt 50 years from now the kids of today will look back at their childhood Christmas’ with a similar nostalgia we older ‘adults’ feel abut ours.
As for me, it seems like most of my Christmas ‘wants’ were pretty well filled when I was a kid. Not much I need or really want anymore. This year, a warm fire, a good meal, a Christmas movie and I’ll be happy………but I will skip any kazoo concerts.