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Sunday, December 25, 2011

Christmas Past

Well, you hear all about Christmas being too commercialized today, the stores start putting out Christmas items in mid October. We hear projected sales of Christmas items in the millions of dollars, phrases like "Black Friday" and "Cyber Monday", "Free Shipping" and 50% off sales lure last minute shoppers to many stores. Kids ask for, get and expect lots of toys and clothes.

Back when I was growing up our Christmases were a lot simpler. There was no internet and shopping was kept to a minimum. In the fall we would get the National Bellas Hess Christmas catalog and we would go through and pick all the things we would like for Santa to bring, very seldom did he oblige us though. It wasn't that we were bad, there was not enough money to buy us all a lot of presents. That didn't stop us from having a great Christmas though.

In the weeks from Thanksgiving to Christmas we would always have play practice at church for the Christmas Play. I don't remember the names of any of them but there would always be angels and shepherds and baby Jesus. The ladies of the church would sew costumes from whatever material they had. They fashioned angel wings from wire and net and halos from tinsel. Shepherds always got to wear someone's old bathrobe and carry a big stick. Mary was always wearing a blue dress with a white scarf on her head. The baby Jesus was a doll laying on a bed of straw in a basket. The birth of Jesus story was always recited by the children prior to the play. We would practice and practice on our verse until we had it down pat.

On Saturday before the play the adults would gather to fill treat bags for the whole church. There was always an orange or two, an apple, a couple sticks of candy, some years there might even be a banana. On Sunday night the church would be filled with people to see the Christmas play, recieve the treat sacks and pass out gifts under the tree. We always got a small gift. My earliest memory is of recieving a big package containing a doll. I remember it had a pink dress and was almost as tall as I was.

At home there was very few decorations or preparations made for Christmas until the Saturday before Christmas. We would always go traipsing thru the woods to find the perfect Christmas tree. It wouldn't be a very big tree because it sat on the table in front of the window. Sometimes we would find a cedar but most often it would be a pine. We would bring it home and stick it in an old can filled with rocks to make it stand up. If we couldn't make it stand up straight sometimes we would take an old board and nail it to the bottom and then take a string and tie it to the window.

We had one string of eight christmas lights and a box that held about a dozen christmas ornaments. we would make paper chains from construction paper we had used for projects at school. If we didn't have construction paper we would sometimes cut up a few pieces of paper we had used to do our school lessons on and then color those red and green and make chains and snowflakes. We would go out and gather holly berries and string them on a thread. If we had some popcorn we would use it and make a popcorn rope to put on the tree. After that came the tinsel. Someone gave us a box of tinsel one year aand we saved it from year to year. I liked to put it on one strand at a time but after awhile it got to be more work than fun. The star was cut out of the outside of the corn flakes box and covered with tin foil. It was the last thing to go on the tree. We thought we had the most beautiful tree with those eight little lights shining through all that tinsel.

On Christmas eve my uncle and aunt would come. He would always be dressed like Santa Claus and leave us all a gift around the tree. One year my cousin got a blue truck. We just about wore that old truck out playing with it. The living room floor sloped from one end to the other and we would sit on that truck and ride it across the floor. One year we got a viewmaster with some
reels. Another year we got a used sled. It may have been used but to us kids it was just as good as a new one.

My grandfather never had much money but one year he had a little extra and he gave all of his grandchildren a dime apiece. It may not have been much monetarily but it was a great gift from the heart.

In the kitchen my grandmother would be cooking up all kinds of good things to eat like molasses stack cakes, butterscotch pies, and big sugar cookies. On Christmas day we would all gather to have a big family dinner. It was a feast to be sure.

With all these memories of Christmas Past I have to agree Christmas is just too commercialized.


Jim and Linda said...

I can remember a star on our tree like you had.

It was beautiful!!


Vera said...

That was a great narration of yesteryear. Yes, things sure were different. I remember getting my first ballpoint pen for Christmas. I was absolutely thrilled. They had just been introduced.
Have a Happy New Year

Rod Ivers said...

Jenny, you understand Christmas better than anyone of today's retail mania types.... You also know that everyone can make do with what they have if need be. Rod