Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories 2015

December 12: Fruitcake: Friend or Foe?

I really like fruitcake. It’s my dirty little secret.

It was always around at the holidays when I was growing up, but I don’t remember who made it! It could have been either my mother or her mother.

This photo is a typical Christmas dinner table at my Nana Keene’s home. I don’t see any fruit cake here, though!

ducky, charles

“The Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories (ACCM) allows you to share your family’s holiday history twenty-four different ways during December! Learn more at http://adventcalendar.geneabloggers.com.”

Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories 2015

December 11: Christmas at Church

Growing up, our family didn’t attend church. My mother was raised in the Methodist church, but as an adult, she did not attend church. Her mother, however, remained a faithful church-goer all her life.

Some of my fondest memories of my Nana are the Saturday afternoons when she let me tag along as she arranged the flowers for the next day’s service.

As children, my parents, while they didn’t attend church, would drop us off for Sunday school at the tiny Methodist church in our little town, three miles down the road from our house. I was also baptized there as a baby. I have vague feelings that perhaps we occasionally attended a Christmas service there.

On a trip a few years ago, I stopped by that little town on my way home from a visit with my mother. It looked so very small. I was SURE that it was much larger!

drive home from nevada 09-32

“The Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories (ACCM) allows you to share your family’s holiday history twenty-four different ways during December! Learn more at http://adventcalendar.geneabloggers.com.”

Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories 2015

December 10: Christmas Traditions

I remember three traditions from my younger years: 1) opening one present on Christmas Eve, 2) our wrapped presents came from our parents, while the presents from “Santa”were found on Christmas morning unwrapped under the tree, and 3) wonderfully stuffed Christmas stockings.

christmas 1968, barbara, richard, donald

I still have my stocking; it’s the one on the left side of the pot-bellied stove.

With our children, I’ve kept two of those traditions: the stockings and a present on Christmas Eve. We’ve added a few more through the years, too.

The kids always got new pajamas as their one present to open on the 24th. Now, the grandkids get them.

For years, they each got a new ornament, too.

And, our Christmas Eve meal of little bites is still going strong after a few decades. I tried to change it once, suggesting that we could get Chinese food perhaps. From the outcry, you’d have thought I had suggested not celebrating Christmas at all. So, that continues!

But, this year, in honor of finding my ancestors from around the world, the appetizers will be little tastes of Christmas food from their countries. Perhaps it will be the beginning of a new tradition!

“The Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories (ACCM) allows you to share your family’s holiday history twenty-four different ways during December! Learn more at http://adventcalendar.geneabloggers.com.”

 

 

Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories 2015

December 9: Christmas Crafts

We always had something handmade for Christmas, usually from my mom’s mom, Nana Wells.

She was a prolific crocheter, and I just about always got granny square slippers. In this photo, I’m wearing a poncho and look pretty happy about it. I’m not sure, but my Nana most likely made it.

christmas 1970, barbara, richard, donald

We got hats, slippers, ponchos, afgans, and embroidered tote bags from her. I still have one of her granny square blankets.

I still love to make gifts!

“The Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories (ACCM) allows you to share your family’s holiday history twenty-four different ways during December! Learn more at http://adventcalendar.geneabloggers.com.”

 

Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories 2015

December 8: Christmas Shopping

I grew up out on the California desert; our little town was three miles down the road, and the “big” town was 10 miles away. The “big city” was over 50 miles down the lonely highway.

So, Christmas shopping was not a big deal. We made most of our gifts, or they were bought at the big town’s nickel and dime store, the pre-runner to today’s Target. We could get the ubiquitous tinsel there, wrapping paper, toys, yarn, or fabric. Candy, too, but not very often.

For really big shopping trips, we made the 50+mile trek to the big city, where we could shop at Sears & Roebuck’s real store, not just order out of the catalog.

But, the Christmas catalog! We anticipated the arrival of the special Christmas catalog in the mail, and when it finally arrived, we spent hours pouring over it, making lists and dreaming.

I still have a fond place in my heart for Christmas catalogs and mail order, only now, it’s amazon.com!

1963, christmas, donald, richard, barbara (2)

“The Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories (ACCM) allows you to share your family’s holiday history twenty-four different ways during December! Learn more at http://adventcalendar.geneabloggers.com.”

Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories 2015

December 7: Christmas Television and Movies

Television was still a relatively new thing when I was a little girl. I have vague memories of getting a color TV at one point, but not much more than that.

My mother’s favorite program was the Lawrence Welk Show, a music variety program. I enjoyed it, too, and they always had a Christmas special.

Later on, I simply fell in love with A Charlie Brown Christmas. The voices of Linus and Lucy were captivating to me, and it’s just not the same when I hear more modern versions.

christmas 67

This photo was taken in 1967, when I was nine. It’s the first one I could fine with a television set. In this photo of our liviing room, it’s just visible on the left side, right next to the giant speaker! Wow! Those things were huge! But, my dad really liked his music, especially the Boston Pops Orchestra, and he played it LOUD.

christmas 1970, barbara, richard, donald

Later, we added a family room on the other side of the house, and the TV moved there, where it is in the photo above.

I can’t wait to watch Charlie Brown with my grandkids again this year!

“The Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories (ACCM) allows you to share your family’s holiday history twenty-four different ways during December! Learn more at http://adventcalendar.geneabloggers.com.”

Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories 2015

December 6: Santa Claus

I believed in Santa Claus as a little girl. My parents gave us the wrapped gifts, but Santa brought the big ones that appeared under the tree Christmas morning.

In this photo, it looks like Santa brought my little brother a truck and camper, my big brother an army Jeep, and me a toy radio. Looks like it was a good Christmas!

1963, christmas, donald, richard, barbara

I’m sure at some time I stopped believing, but I can’t remember when. It must not have been very traumatic!

“The Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories (ACCM) allows you to share your family’s holiday history twenty-four different ways during December! Learn more at http://adventcalendar.geneabloggers.com.”

Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories 2015

December 5: Christmas Recipes

My very favorite Christmas food was my Nana’s steamed pudding with hard sauce. It was dense, moist, and filled with candied fruit, then smothered in  sweet, creamy, liquor-filled icing. I loved it.

I’ve tried making it several times, but it hasn’t lived up to the pudding of my memories.

This photo was taken at my Nana Keene’s house, my dad’s mother. I loved going to her house; it was exotic for this country mouse, with arches, a sun porch, and a magical fold-out ironing board/kids’ table. If you look closely, you can see the Christmas pudding standing tall in the middle of the table.

Now, I know what I’ll be making for my holiday dinner!

Charles, Emma, Don, Bruce, Virginia, at Nana Keene's

“The Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories (ACCM) allows you to share your family’s holiday history twenty-four different ways during December! Learn more at http://adventcalendar.geneabloggers.com.”

Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories 2015

December 4: Christmas Lights

When I was growing up, Christmas tree lights were giant bulbs in red green white and blue, now back in style as “vintage.”

I don’t think we ever put lights up anywhere else but on the tree. When my children were little, the tiny Christmas lights came into vogue, and I never looked back. My husband likes the ones that twinkle or flash off and on; they make me crazy. So, we compromise and do it my way.

christmas 1960, jeanne, nampie, barbara, charlotte, donald

 

“The Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories (ACCM) allows you to share your family’s holiday history twenty-four different ways during December! Learn more at http://adventcalendar.geneabloggers.com.”

Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories 2015

December 3: Christmas Music

I don’t remember Christmas music as a child.

My father was a great lover of music, having played in the band in his high school and then later in the army. But for some reason, I don’t remember us playing Christmas music as I was growing up.

But as an adult I grew to love Christmas music and couldn’t wait until after Thanksgiving to queue up my records. When our children were young around 1990, we discovered Christmas Lessons and Carols.

Best. Christmas. Music. Ever.

Our first Lessons and Carols was Christmas 1991 in Portland Oregon. Lessons and Carols is a service that intersperses Christmas carols with scripture readings. The service was at a church we have never attended before, perhaps Episcopalian. The night was one of those perfectly clear and icy cold evenings, and the church was packed, warm with bodies. The lights were low and from the back of the church the choir came in on the side aisles and down the center filling the sanctuary  with beautiful music.

The last Carol of the night was sung by the light of hundreds of candles, each one held by an attendee. The church glowed golden, and my heart was full.

We’ve tried ever since to find a Lessons and Carols service to match this on, with varying levels of success. But, that first Lessons and Carols was the best.

This photo is from Christmas 1968, when I was ten. I never mastered the guitar, but I did enjoy trying.

barbara, with guitar, christmas 1968 (1)

“The Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories (ACCM) allows you to share your family’s holiday history twenty-four different ways during December! Learn more at http://adventcalendar.geneabloggers.com.”