Sunday Smiles- Holiday Memories

I am sitting here in the quiet early morning, nursing the mother of all head colds and savoring my first pot of White Chocolate Peppermint coffee of the season.  Yes, it is that good, and the peppermint is cooling a throat made scratchy and raw from a night of relentless coughing.  I would love to invite you over for a cup, but it would be hard for you to sip through the surgical mask you might wear to guard against the germs.

As I enjoy a stillness interrupted only by my sniffling, I find my mind wandering to the holiday seasons of my youth.  Was December not the most magical month (and really, isn’t it still) filled with wonder and surprise?  I need only to close my eyes, and I am transported back to my childhood home and Christmases past.

As you walked through our front door you entered a small foyer with stairs leading up and down.  The upward staircase had wrought iron railings, and each December we would tape all of the Christmas cards we received to the railings.  Back in those days everyone sent out cards, and it wasn’t long before the railings were covered and cards were spilling over onto the wood paneled wall.  I recall sitting on the stairs at night reading each card over and over, picking out my favorites and running my fingers over the embossed pictures.

Up those stairs and to the right was the living room, and there is a corner, in all of its dazzling splendor, stood our Christmas tree.  Each year around the second weekend in December our father would finally announce that it was time to buy the tree.  Let me tell you, that man put as much thought and effort into picking out a tree as most people do picking out a car or a house.  Tree after tree was picked up, shaken, and twirled, only to be discarded due to falling needles or bald spots.  There was no rushing the process, and row upon row of trees where inspected until…yes, the perfect tree was found!

Decorating the tree was a happy night of hot chocolate, candy canes, and holiday music.  Ours was a tree covered in a hodgepodge of ornaments, from the handmade needlepoint ones stitched by our grandmother, to the ones made by my brother and me in school, to the cherished ones from our parents’ childhoods.  There was no “just so” placement for us.  Nope, it was a free-for-all decorating frenzy with the only rules being that we had to dust off each glass ornament carefully with tissue before placing it on a branch.  Upon completion we would stand back and admire our handiwork while our cats, Smokey and Holly, maneuvered through the train layout and laid claim to the tree skirt.

Christmas in the mid-70s...hopefully my brother won't disown me for sharing this!

Christmas in the mid-70s…hopefully my brother won’t disown me for sharing this!

The rest of the month would be a whirlwind of holiday activity, and the memories were made faster than they could be counted.  We watched all of the classic holiday movies, but my favorite was Emmet Otter’s Jug-Band Christmas.  (I still watch it every year, though with a chuckle at the now obvious puppet strings.)  There were days spent ice skating and nights helping our mom bake cookies.  There was gift day at school when we would ponder over little holiday presents to buy for our parents and siblings, agonizing over how to best spend our precious quarters.

There were nights walking the neighborhood caroling with friends in hopes of a cookie or candy reward.  There was the evening when the firetruck rode up our street, and who do you think was riding on it but the big jolly man himself?  We stood looking up in awe as he reached down to hand each of us a candy cane and a wrapped gift with our name on the tag.  Holy cow, he really did know where we lived!  Oh yes, you better believe I believed!

There were my furtive, stealthy snooping missions.  I fancied myself a top-notch sleuth as I peeked in drawers and poked around in closets looking for hidden gifts.  I would inevitably come across a stocking stuffer or a gift and promptly ruin my brother’s surprises by telling him what I’d found.  In reality, though, I was no match for my mo…um, I mean Santa, as come Christmas morning there was a pile of presents that my little eyes had not spied.  In retrospect I consider it lucky that the coal threat never panned out as it would have served my rotten, snooping self right.

Well now, here I am back in the present, finishing off my second cup and smiling.  I have not paused to consider how horrible I have been feeling as I write this.  Instead, I find that once again the season has worked its magic.  I was wondering where my Christmas spirit was this year.  It appears it was nestled somewhere between a box of tissues and a trip down a holiday memory lane.

What are some of your favorite holiday memories and traditions?  Which Christmas movies do you love?  What cookies do you absolutely have to bake?  Please share your stories and keep the holiday spirit alive.  Believe, and be love!  Cheers! Karen

Featured image photo credit to:

28 thoughts on “Sunday Smiles- Holiday Memories

  1. Hi Karen, I have loads of Christmas memories from my childhood and the early days when Hubby and I first got together. Decorating the tree was up to us kids, and it was always a real one growing up.
    I remember stockings on the bottom of the bed, bikes hidden in attics, carols round the piano, squirty cream ending up in hair (and that was the adults!) so many wonderful things. My Mum will probably remember those more these days, and the card I bought her specifically thanks her for the memories and magic of Christmases past.

    Liked by 2 people

    • My father would never have stood for a fake tree when we were growing up. Now that we live in such a warm climate it is hard to keep a live tree looking healthy for long. Plus we have limited space so some years hubby and I opt for a small fake tree or no tree. That is a wonderful idea with the card! I suppose this post could serve as that “thank you” to my mom for making each Christmas so special for us. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I love making mince pies for Christmas especially as the pastry is one of the things I am good at making, We have a family tradition of having two sets of presents. The ones that Santa had brought for us in the morning and left in our stockings (or pillow cases when I was a child) and the ‘tree presents’ that we open around 6 pm. These are little fun gifts we buy for each other that are either useful (like knickers and socks) or funny ones (I got a ‘jewel encrusted’ dustpan and brush one year) Things that bring a smile. We used to do them around 6 pm or ‘teatime’ as that would be when any family who hadn’t made Christmas dinner would turn up. The presents had been accumulating under the tree fro ages and it would be great fun dishing them out and seeing what everyone else had got. It could take some time as we are a big family! I loved this post, taking us all back down memory lane!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you for sharing your Christmas memories! What a fun tradition the two sets of gifts sounds like. I’m sure there have been lots of laughs over the “teatime” presents. You know, I have never had mince pie, but it is a favorite of my father-in-law. It’s just not as popular here in the States. I may have to find some this year! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Great memories, Karen. I LOVE Emmit Otter’s Jugband Christmas and like you, I still watch it every year..:)
    I just remember lots of family around Christmas and my mother’s chocolate cream pie..:)

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I remember how amazing the tree smelled. Always… I miss it. I like our fake tree and it’s much better than what we would get here anyway. But I miss the smell of the tree… Thanks for this beautiful post. After reading I closed my eyes and remembered Christmases growing up…

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’m glad to hear it sparked your own happy memories. We are now in such a warm climate that if you buy a real tree in early December it is not likely to last until Christmas. We get a real one every few years just because we can’t resist.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Between the two of us: Not only do I like the environmental side of not chucking down a tree every year (although the plastic of ours is an issue…), it’s also the more or less effortless taking out and packing away each ear that I like with the fake one. And it actually looks pretty nice.

        Liked by 1 person

  5. I found it easy to visualise your house and your dad picking the tree and the fun times yin hd.

    For us Bing Crosby movies signify Christmas.

    Christmas in Australia is so different. Usually warm and sometimes very hot!

    I have vivid memories of one Christmas so hot that we all sat outside with feet in the wading pool Santa had delivered the night before for my sister and I.

    We had one family Christmas where we had 2 Christmas days, one in Australia as we left I the morning to arrive in LA so we could have another Christmas Day at Disneyland which was amazing with small children.

    This year will be my first Christmas in Europe. It won’t be the first time that not all of our children will be with us (only 1 of them will be with us) but the first time we have been away and them at home. It will also be cold.

    I’m sure it will be quite different this year!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you for sharing your memories! Bing Crosby and David Bowie singing Little Drummer Boy/ Peace on Earth is my all-time favorite Christmas song. I grew up in the mountains in New Jersey, and we often had cold, snowy Christmases. Now that I am in South Carolina we’ve been known to celebrate in shorts. I will look forward to reading about your European holiday this year!

      Liked by 1 person

  6. I loved this post 🙂
    I enjoyed your trip down memory lane, as it triggered my own memories.
    Emmett Otter for one! Oh Emmett Otter! I love that movie! 😀
    This month, I’m playing along here and there with a Christmas Postathon, and so far, it’s been fun.

    Liked by 1 person

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