It's a quick and easy leap to thinking about past - way past - Christmasses. My childhood Christmasses always followed the same pattern - tree up on Christmas Eve and down on New Year's Day. That's the way most people did it back in the 50s. The trees were all real and the strings of light were hot. So it was a safety issue I guess. It made Christmas morning magical - seeing the tree all decorated and lighted for the first time when the gifts were piled around it.
No fancy stockings hanging for us - we used Dad's heavy Army socks - which were the largest in the family. I don't remember us ever having a fireplace in any of the places we lived so we set our stockings on the couch. They were the first things we opened on Christmas morning and they were always stuffed the same - an orange in the toe, apple in the heel, followed by mixed nuts in the shell and then peanuts still in the shell, chocolates wrapped in waxed paper, hard candy wrapped in waxed paper, and the best of all - large pieces of ribbon candy and barley candy. There might be a small toy or trinket on top with the candy cane. I loved those stockings and their predictability.
Mum had an old Brownie Box camera back then but she seldom took pictures. I managed to find two Christmas pictures - one from 1953 and one from 1954.
This picture was taken in 1953 when we went to visit Dad's sister's family in Nova Scotia. That cute little 5-year old on the left is me. My sister Wendy is beside me, then cousin Sharron and my brother Ken. The baby is Sharron's brother Brad. Aunt Evelyn used to always swirl angel hair on her Christmas tree - it looked beautiful.
This 1954 picture is me, Wendy, Ken and cousin Gary being held by Wendy. That was the Christmas Aunt Edna and Gary were living with us in New Brunswick.
One other thing I just remembered about our Christmasses back then. We never used to put our gifts away until the tree came down on New Year's Day. We could take the toys and play with them as long as we put them back under the tree. Several times a day would find Mum down under the tree straightening it out - making sure the tags showing who gave the gifts were with the proper gifts and everything on display. I didn't understand this custom until I was a teenager and we spent a Christmas with Mum's parents. All of her sisters and brothers had this same custom. There was a tradition of "visiting the tree" between Christmas and New Years when people (mostly family members) would go to each home and literally visit the tree - admiring how it was decorated and looking at all the gifts under the tree. To this day I don't like seeing a bare tree skirt after Christmas.
I find it interesting to see the way traditions from my childhood are incorporated into traditions from Lloyd's childhood, and then the way our kids have kept some of our traditions and incorporated them into their spouse's traditions, so that our grandchildren have a rich heritage of traditions happening in their lives. And that's what family's all about.
Hope you're taking time to enjoy some sentimental reminiscing this Christmas season.