Christmases Long, Long Ago
As I sat wrapping gifts this afternoon, I thought back through several decades to Christmases Long, Long Ago. When I was growing up we nearly always wrapped gifts on Mother’s bed. Don’t ask me why we used that unstable location — probably because their bedroom also served as the family room, with Mother’s sewing center and Daddy’s desk located in there.
Today I pulled out some ancient ribbon I’ve had stashed away for decades. Readers over fifty may remember the kind that had glossy fibers bonded to a duller base. In the olden days we formed our own bows from loops of this ribbon. We cut notches in the center, tied a thin ribbon tightly inside the loops, then pulled them out, alternating sides and twisting to create a full, puffy bow. These were far more elegant than the preformed plastic decorations in common use today.
I took pains with the wrapping, turning edges under to make crisp, straight seams, and folding the ends with origami precision. The finished packages are so lovely, it seems a shame that they’ll soon be ripped open.
Then I remembered the thrill of crouching beneath the tree, pondering each new gift that appeared, wondering what treasures it might hold. Unfortunately most were generally a disappointment when the day arrived. Wondering was the best part.
Thinking of the tree, I remembered various trees through the years, and the ritual of decorating them. First the lights were strung, then the various ornaments carefully placed. That involved lots of discussion to ensure that the colors and shapes were nicely distributed and balanced around the tree. Finally, we fastidiously placed silver icicles on each and every branch tip. It was a point of honor in our family to place no more than three strands at a time, spacing them carefully to give a uniform shimmering coat to the tree. “Some people just toss them on by the handful!” Mother disdainfully reminded us to reinforce the proper attitude in her young assistants.
Stockings, various candles, table adornments and wreaths followed the tree decorating. We even put up green fishnet draped along the staircase wall, decorated with shiny Christmas balls. Turning the front window into “stained glass” with poster paint powder mixed with soap flakes or something like that was great fun!
Today as I wrapped, this time on my kitchen table, the fragrance of Date Nut Loaf wafted from the oven, turning my thoughts to Christmas foods. We didn’t do cookies, we did candy.
Suddenly I thought of stories. I might have dropped everything to come to the computer and write, but I didn’t have to. I’ve already written these stories. How about you? Have you documented Christmas Long Ago for your family? If you don’t have time in the next few days, perhaps you can use the lovely glowing days after Christmas to do some writing.
Some of you may not celebrate Christmas, but you can’t help being impacted by it. How about some stories for your family about Hanukah or your holiday of tradition, and stories about your experiences as a non-participant in the major holiday of the year.
Have a blessed Christmas. I’m taking a break for a few days, but I'll be back soon.
Sharon Lippincott, aka Ritergal