Just Me

Just Me
Look,I'm just sayin'

Monday, December 19, 2016

Christmas memories

 The Christmas tree was always in the same spot. The stairs to the bedrooms ran along the far wall of the living room. Where they joined the wall there was a corner formed. That is where the tree went. The reason was a simple one. On the opposite end of that room was the fireplace. It is only prudent to keep that tree as far from a fire as possible. It was also convenient to tie the top of the tree to the handrail. I remember checking out the ornaments as I climbed the stairs. The tree was a good thing to hide behind as well. You could sneak part way down those stairs and peer around the edge of the tree, you know, to see if the coast was clear. I can see those Christmas trees clearly in my mind sitting in that corner. Strange, I couldn't tell you what was normally there. A chair I would guess or maybe the television. No, the television usually sat in a different spot, in front of those stairs, but centered on them. It is fun sometimes to try and remember those things. Funny how you can pull up a picture at times with all the details and at others there are missing pieces. I expect that is what folks mean when they say they are getting forgetful. I know that feeling.
 Our living room, that is what we called it long before anyone thought to call it a family room, ran the width of the house. The front door was centered in that room. The walls were all tongue and groove knotty pine. That was the style of the times. Dad did that in the 1960's. That was also when he built the fireplace. I have a picture of when my grandmother came to my house for Christmas. It was in 58 or 59. The fireplace hadn't been built yet and the Christmas tree was sitting in front of the big picture window. I believe it was the last time that tree was ever placed there. I also believe it was the last time Grandma was ever there too. Grandma didn't pass until 1973 but she didn't leave her home often. I only have that picture to prove that she ever left her home.
 There was a doorway in the center of that room that led to the kitchen and a short hallway on the right. Down that hallway was the bathroom and Mom and Dads' room. The stairs went over their closet. There was a piece of that tongue and groove pine that mysteriously became loose. You could remove it and if the closet door was open, see inside Moms' closet. Well I remember that piece coming loose and looking in that closet and seeing gifts. Mind you it was my brothers doing, but I looked. It was just a peek, the opening wasn't large and the light was bad. Thing was, we kids weren't allowed in our parents bedroom. You never went in there unless you were called or told to go in there. That was a law ! And it was a law that you didn't dare to break. To this day I'm not sure what would have happened to you but it wasn't going to be good. That bedroom was definitely off limits. But we had secret access. You could hear what they were talking about too. Not that I ever listened !
 It was always an exciting time coming down those stairs Christmas morning. Down past the tree and a quick turn to the right. That tree stood right there with all those gifts right underneath. The tradition was you had to " open " your stocking first. There were, naturally, hung by the chimney with care. Really they would be lined up ,leaning against the hearth. We would all sit there and pull those treats out of those stockings. I especially remember the little books of lifesavers, boxes of crayons, candy bars and always an orange in the toe. That orange was a tradition of my Mothers. Her mother always gave her an orange for Christmas. You see, it was explained to us children, every year, that an orange was a big treat when she was a little girl. They were quite expensive as they had to be imported all the way from Florida. Oranges weren't always available in the local grocery store but would be brought in special for Christmas. Anyway, that is what we were told. I continued that tradition for a short time but it didn't catch on in my family. Well, things change. We don't have any traditions.
 Are traditions observed ? Yes that is what they say, but I say you would have to see them in order to observe them. I don't see anything I do as a tradition. There are things I do every year or almost every year. Are they traditions ? Guess they could be but only to someone else. Does that make any sense ? I don't have a single thing from my childhood Christmases. I have no ornament from the tree or decoration. I did have an ornament but sadly it was lost over time. During my last move that ornament was lost. That was over a decade ago. I have never told anyone in my family about that. It is still a secret. No one in my immediate family reads these posts and so the secret is safe. I can not express my sense of loss for that simple object. It is a tradition lost. And I lost it. It can never be replaced.
 Christmas is the time for nostalgia and memories. I was very fortunate to grow up in a time and place where great memories were made. I went to Church with family and friends. We went caroling. I lived were it snowed and enjoyed sledding and ice skating in those winter months. We always had a real tree in that corner and it smelled wonderful. Every Christmas morning there were presents under that tree. Christmas trees lined Main Street and the shop windows were decorated in that " home town " feel. That was long before any professional window dressers did those windows. Everyone said Merry Christmas and were especially friendly at this time of year. I would say I have " Norman Rockwell " memories of my childhood Christmases and you can't ask for much more than that. Memories are a comfort in difficult times and a joy when things are good.