Thursday, December 2, 2010

Christmas Past

I'm feeling Christmassy these days - ever since our family Christmas party last week. The weather has cooperated - lots of snow but not unbearably cold. I've got my Christmas shopping done early and am planning on spending the weekend doing Christmas cards, wrapping gifts and taking those that need to be mailed to the post office, and decorating the tree. My favorite radio station has started it's traditional 'all Christmas all the time' music so it'll keep me company while I do my thing.

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.


Anonymous said...

We have never wanted for a very special Christmas at our house due to Pat's dedication to family traditions and celebrations. We feel very fortunate that it has created so many fond memories for each of us.

Jane said...

Love your Christmas memories and pictures to go along with it. Hope that today and the weekend are good to you,


RH (aka Lucy) said...

Boy...that photo takes me back. I noticed the tree and the icicles you had on it. It's been years since I did that. Do they even sell them anymore? I had a sister that insisted I only put one icicle on one spot and not just a bunch of them 'thrown on' the tree. She was no fun! :)

Sandy aka Doris the Great said...

We had the same tradition of "visiting the tree" and my girls still keep their gifts under the tree until just before New Year's.

I wish I was on top of Xmas prep like you but my broken foot has held me back. But I did have a lot of shopping done before this happened: and hopefully, I'll get some wrapping done this weekend.

Wendy said...

I enjoyed the 'Christmases past' because I share the same memories that you do, although have not continued all the traditions we had - traditions evolve as we go along. I really hate to be picky, but that first picture was not taken in 1951, but rather, in 1953. Ken was born in 1951, and Bradley was born in May of 1953.

Sara_HB said...

Mum, that 1954 picture of you could be Charlie! Don't you think?

Chatty Crone said...

I enjoyed seeing your old pictures and hearing about your past - things sure have changed haven't they?

I'm glad you have the snow and not me!


mickey said...

Love love seeing these old pics of you so young and yes I do see your granddaughters in those oldies! Christmas then was so special and alot of our memories are the same. You've inspired me to go searching for my old photos of Christmas!

Anonymous said...

Nobody does Christmas like you, Mom. Thanks for all the memories! - Mary

JQ said...

I've never seen those pictures. So cute. Are you wearing "slacks" in the second one? Why did Edna live with you guys? I didn't know that either. And yes, it drives me crazy when Anders calls everyone to put their presents away an hour after opening them. I get all panicky and when he wants to know why I can't even explain myself. Thanks for clearing it up.

Kath said...

We did the same with our stockings as a child. Found the biggest sock we could find and laid it on the back of the couch. We had fruit and nuts too along with a big peppermint stick and a small gift.
Stockings are very much a part of our family tradition that the kids do not want to give up!!