merry and bright

Whenever I start to stress over gift giving, and amidoingenough?, amidoingtoomuch? whyischristmassocommercialized? brain spiral, I like to think about the stories my parents tell me of their Christmas' of the past. These are from my memory, so forgive if there are erroneous additions or exclusions of information. But they are beautiful and simple and full of what it is really about. 

One year my dad had a job at a local toy store. He was the oldest of a family with 6 kids. And the younger girls were much younger than he. He saved up all of his money during the holiday season, and when everything went on sale Christmas eve, he and his sister Aunt Claudia bought presents for all of the little kids and wrapped them from Santa Claus. He said he will never forget his parents' tears of amazement and gratitude that beautiful Christmas morning.

My grandpa Gold stayed up all night one year on Christmas eve to build a fireplace! so they could have a fire for Christmas. What a surprise that morning! One year he surprised Grandma with a brand new car, another a washing machine (she had never had one before). 

My grandma Gold would hand sew/darn dolls for each daughter when they were a certain age, and then every year make new dresses for them. My mother remembers her telling her she would stay up all night every night for weeks leading up to Christmas to get done, and would often have blistered and bloodied hands.

My grandma Curtis (Granny) would make the most delicious fudge and sugar cookies of ALL TIME. This is not an exaggeration. She was a master baker and candy maker. I still remember her teaching me how to level off every measuring cup with a knife and to never lick your fingers. Sorry granny, that latter one never stuck. hehe   My dad has mastered her fudge recipe and makes the best fudge I have ever had...hands down. No offense, you really haven't had good fudge yet unless you've had Jim Curtis'! 

My mom worked at inner city schools when I was growing up. Every year she would choose a family for us to "Christmas". I remember many years of leaving a turkey, and everything else for a full dinner on a doorstep, along with coats, toys and books. Many of these kids in her classes had a high percentage rate of joining a gang by age 16, dropping out of school by 14 and almost every one raised in a single parent home. One year I was helping at my mom's classroom for parent teacher conferences and saw a little girl wearing one of our coats. I will never forget that.

One Christmas my brother Russ saved up his money from work and he and my brother Bill bought my sister and I matching outfits from...GAP. The real GAP. Not hand me down, not Ross or Marshall's, but a real mall store. It was my first name brand, and complete outfit (even a matching tartan plaid headband!) of my life. I believe I wore it well into summer, even when stirrup leggings probably weren't appropriate attire for the weather. OH, that was one of the best Christmas' of my memories. 

Around age 12, my church group of young men and women went and sang carols and visited an elderly home. I can never forget the smell, the smell! and also the utter loneliness of those sweet, sweet people. So many stories, and smiles and happiness. I never could understand why watching us sing and talk would bring so much joy, but I imagine at that age, you realize how special it is to have youth and energy and zeal.

What are your treasured Christmas memories? It's probably time to write them down!

1 comment:

angela michelle said...

What great stories! And that photos is just too cute! My daughter Betsy looks like her grandma.

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