Sunday, December 23, 2007

Christmas Memories

Memories of past Christmases have been flooding my mind. I don’t remember many of the gifts I received, but the memories of preparations for Christmas are as fresh as if they had just happened. My family was small - just my parents and one brother and I - but we celebrated big. Getting ready for Christmas began when most people were still in short sleeves and didn’t end until the big day arrived.

Christmas gift lists were made long before Thanksgiving and often included homemade gifts of jams and jellies or baked goods for friends and neighbors. Mother’s talents in the kitchen were well known and her homemade gifts were received with smiles. Many years later, she would publish her own cookbook and sell over 700 copies - no small feat while living in town of about 300 people!

The baking started with the fruitcake, which had to age at least a month to reach just the right "ripeness." Cookies were baked and placed in sealed containers so they would stay fresh. The candy making started the week before Christmas as the sweets didn’t stay fresh very long, especially with hands reaching into the tins several times a day.

My dad had a special knack of determining what his gifts were just by shaking, balancing it in one hand to see how heavy it was and sniffing it - all this followed by a "Hummm." Then, he would tell us what it was. One year we took a new pair of shoes, put each in its own different sized box and dared him to guess the identity of the gift. Didn’t work. He guessed it in no time. I don’t know how he did it, but this trait has been inherited by my daughter, who uses the same techniques to guess what she has under the tree. My parents and brother are gone now, but their personality traits live on in the rest of my family.

I said that I don’t remember many of the Christmas gifts I received, but one does stand out and I doubt that it will ever be topped. On Christmas Day 1999 our talented, beautiful, funny granddaughter was born. She is a joy and I am constantly amazed at what she says. Last week I talked to her after she had tasted the fudge I mailed with her Christmas gifts. Her comment was "Grandma, you can’t dance and you can’t sing, but you sure can cook."

Maybe I am my mother’s daughter.

I hope you all are creating wonderful memories during this blessed season and may your hearts be full of peace and joy during the new year. Please say a prayer or think positive thoughts for the safety of our military men and women in Iraq and Afghanistan.

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