I was thinking about what Christmas was like for me when I was a child. It's fun to think back and remember....
I'm not sure if the early memories are only from looking at old pictures or if I really do remember them... I think most of my early memories were of favorite toys. But we had some family traditions that I remember fondly.
Mom would be busy in the weeks before in the kitchen, making cookies, candy, pies and fruitcake for the neighbors. I remember always being there to help decorate sugar cookies and of course to eat them. Sometimes mom would also spend long hours in her sewing room making either clothes or stuffed animals for us. Her family was in Minnesota so we never spent any Christmas away from home. So to make her feel a little closer to her family we would open our gifts from her family on Christmas Eve. She would tell us every year that it was a Scandinavian tradition to open all the gifts on Christmas Eve not on Christmas morning.
We read the story from Matthew about the birth of Jesus and told the Night Before Christmas story and usually got new pajamas to wear to bed. I don't think I ever believed in Santa, we didn't have a fireplace so I couldn't imagine him coming down our chimney into the coal furnace and then walking up from the basement cover in soot.... but I went along with the stories and our main gift was always from Santa.
My brother Merlynn was always the one to wake us all up at about 3 or 4 am. We weren't allowed to go into the living room where the tree and presents were until mom and dad were awake. At the foot of the stairs and at the end of the hallway to the downstairs bedrooms was the doorway to the living room. My bedroom was downstairs and so we would run down the hall and up the stairs trying to look as quickly into the living room to see what we could see.... and then we'd report to the other siblings what we think we saw. This would go on for what seemed liked hours till our parents finally woke up and we would all go into the living room together and with the Christmas tree lights on.
Here are some of the gifts I remember getting... one year mom made us all stuffed animals. I got a huge gray mouse, it was my favorite animal at the time. I got a lot of tonka trucks or matchbox cars. One year Merlynn got a matchbox city with buildings and roads and I got the country side. These folded us into a breifcase and could be stored with the cars. One year I got a toy called "Billy Blastoff" an astronaut and a "Strange Change Machine". That was this thing that looked like a big egg incubator. You would put a small square of plastic into it and a dinosaur would grow. You could then put the dinosaur into a type of vice-grip and squeeze it back into the plastic square. We always took a picture of the family, everyone holding their favorite toy they just got. As a teenager I remember getting a 10 speed bike and a radio/cassette player.
After breakfast and after mom took her first nap on the sofa, we all go outside to play with our toys or just get outside. We sometime would go see neighbors and friends to see what they got.Occasionally our cousins would come by in the afternoon or we'd drive to Price, the city where they lived (which was 25 miles away) so the adults could all get together to eat and visit.
We were pretty wiped out by 8 pm or so... and would fall asleep watching some Christmas special on TV. Another tradition our family had was saving a present under the tree till New Year's Day. It was always a new board game that we would play all day. I still like a good board game!!
This time of year is so much different for me now, but I still like doing holiday traditions. And remember the past fun of my childhood.