Monday, December 24, 2012

Lumpy Socks and Charlie Brown Trees


It is Christmas Eve 2012! Where has the time gone? While many of you are making merry with your family and friends about now, it's just me and the doggies hanging out here. When you have a hubby with a crazy work schedule like mine, you get used to it. It's okay though. Most of my holiday preparations have been made and now I have time to just sit here. Quietly. Reflecting. Thinking about what an awesome God we have. He who sent His only son to earth as a little baby so we could all have this wonderful Savior! Also thinking back to the Christmases of yesteryear and how truly blessed I am to have these memories. Oh, there are so many but here are just a few that come to mind.
It looks like it's dancing!
Christmas was without a doubt the most anticipated time of the year when I was a little girl. I imagine it is for most children.  First of all, the Christmas season didn't even begin until Thanksgiving was over. The stores didn't put the Christmas items out on the shelves along with Halloween decorations like they do today. Isn't that just ridiculous? We had to practically beg Mom and Dad to let us put the tree up well into the second half of the month of December. I've read stories and watched old movies where families didn't put any decorations until Christmas Eve since they left them up for the twelve days of Christmas. Now I must admit that there is something kind of cool about the idea of waiting until Christmas Eve to put your tree up. It brings to mind a picture of an old Victorian Christmas card ... a family gathering together, trimming the tree with real candles (yikes!), singing carols, all the while sipping on eggnog. Something right out of a Dickens novel. Anyway, when you are an impatient little girl, it's hard to wait. What am I saying? When you are an impatient big girl it's hard to wait! As I remember, it was usually about two weeks before Christmas when our family would drag out all the decorations and start decking the halls. Artificial trees were unheard of when I was really young so it wasn't until several years later when we got our first faux tree. As you can tell by the photo, our trees had c-h-a-r-a-c-t-e-r! Charlie Brown's tree had nothing on ours! Charlie hadn't even been born yet so we didn't actually use his name back then to describe our trees - they were just what we were used to. I remember it being an extra luxury when we had one that was actually tall enough to sit on the floor instead of on top of the desk in the living room! Oh and see that round thing on top? It is actually and angel standing on clouds. There is a reflective, prism looking thingy (the round part) and a glittery bulb when lit, makes it all "heavenly" looking. I just found out the other day that my sis, Barb has that tree topper now and uses it every year!

It was a family affair, the decorating of the tree. Dad was the boss. The boys were in charge of getting the lights on. We had those big ol' bulky colored bulbs that got very hot. Back in the day, they were hooked up "on a series" meaning that when one went out, they all did. It was a pain when one would go bad and it was usually the very last that was checked that was burned out. It never failed. We all had a hand in placing ornaments, tinsel and the rest as Dad sat back and eyeballed the scene, offering his supervisory skills. Mom offered her opinion only when asked. Once the tree was up and all decorated, the excitement of Christmas really started to fill the air, along with the smell of Mom's homemade sugar cookies and Dad's fudge.
The original Barbie Doll
Secret trips to Woolworth's or our local dime store followed by whispers between brothers and sisters kept all of the excitement going. We didn't have a lot of money to spend on elaborate gifts, in fact, we knew nothing of such things. Each one of us kids would get maybe 2 or 3 presents each from Mom & Dad. By then, some of the older ones had jobs and did some gift-giving as well. Most of the time our gifts were something practical like much needed underwear, new night clothes or socks. I remember one year in particular when I received a new baby doll. She was the kind that didn't have any "real" hair and what she had was just a textured part of the molded plastic. That little baby doll was precious to me and I remember so well the scent of the vinyl that she was made from. To this day, I love that smell! I think it may have been sister Janet who bought Barbara and I our first and probably only Barbie Dolls. These were the original Barbies too! Remember, Barbie just recently turned 50 so we really did get some from the first batch! When we got a little older and wanted to do some shopping ourselves, I remember Mom would always save back a little money and give us each a few dollars to go buy gifts with. Sometimes, certain scents still remind me of those days ... and those large bottles of cheap toilet water (yes, that's what it was called) that we would sometimes buy for each other.

Before my sibs and I (the last three of us at home) actually received our first ready made Christmas stocking with our names on them, we hung our white knee socks up and woke to find them filled to the brim with oranges or tangerines, walnuts in the shells and candy canes. What a sight they were! They looked like huge stuffed sausages hanging from our make-believe mantle! Regardless of how they looked, they were also filled with love and I will always remember those lumpy socks as one of my favorite Christmas memories. Mom always made sure she put the exact same thing in all our socks because she knew we would dump it all out and compare what we got with each other. Mom was very  careful not to show "partiality" as she put it, to any of us kids. I guess when you have so many children you must be careful to treat them all the same to keep fights from breaking out!

Thinking back to those Christmases of days past warms my heart and I can't help but miss the simpler times. I absolutely love the story of Ebeneezer Scrooge in "A Christmas Carol" and I don't consider my yearly Christmas experiences complete without watching it ...the version with George C. Scott. The Ghost of Christmas Past came to remind Scrooge of the joy Christmastime had brought to him in years gone by...in contrast to the way he was living when the ghost visited him. His life was full of regrets because somewhere along the line he lost hope and became a lonely and bitter man. Oh sure, I too have a few regrets in my life ...most of us do, but when Jesus is your Lord and Savior, those regrets have no place because He takes them all away and replaces them with His love and grace.

Yes, the Charlie Brown trees, the lumpy socks and the smell of a plastic baby doll are all fond Christmas memories of mine. But all of those silly little things I remember would be just silly little things had they not have been wrapped up in a lot of love. Love for God. Love for each other. These things remind me that memories, Christmas ones especially, are the best gifts we could ever hope to receive.

Merry Christmas! And may God bless us...everyone!