Thursday, May 04, 2006

It's Never Too Early for Christmas

Tonight's entry actually began as a comment about a posting at A Sideways Look at Womanhood, but the comment started to take on the shape of a short novella (isn't that redundant?!), so I thought I'd move it over to this blog and expand it a wee bit.

Miss Understood in Exeter, England, (for those how didn't click on the link above to her blog) writes about her favorite memories with her son and Christmas is at the top of the list. This got me dredging up my own memories about that vaunted holiday.

Christmas was my favorite holiday as a child. Some of my warmest memories growing up surround the holidays. (It was only in later years, as an adult, that I learned just how much went into making Christmas possible for me and my siblings some years. Thanks, Mom, for keeping the wonder in Christmas for us.)

My favorite part of the holiday season was the arrival of the annual Sears & Roebuck Christmas Wish Catalog with its pages and pages and pages of toys, games, and clothes. Mom told us, Sears was one of Santa's many workshops. Then there was the letter writing to "Dear Santa." (I must confess, I never wrote and asked for peace on earth or anything noble.)

My siblings and my mother claim, I did everything short of actually ripping the paper off my presents to try to figure out what I was getting in the days leading up to Christmas morning, but I don't remember this. (My siblings call it 'selective memory.' I call it 'imagination.')

Then there was the cookie baking. My mother has a Betty Crocker Cookie Book with some of the best cookie recipes in the world. She'd make chocolate chip, peanut butter, orange drop, and Russian tea cakes. On Christmas Eve, we'd leave a plate of these delights, along with an orange or two, and a glass of milk on the piano for Santa. On Christmas morning, we'd find most of the cookies nibbled, the milk drunk, and the orange consumed (that would have been Dad eating that up), which always thrilled us.

Prior to Christmas, we would draw names out of a bowl and on Christmas Eve we would exchange gifts. Even better than that, though, were the new pajamas we would receive that my mother had made.

Christmas also came with the occasional anxiety-provoking moments for us kids. We grew up in Utah where snow is a common part of the holiday season. (It starts in late October and goes until early April in the good years.) Being a desert state, Utah is also prone to drought years. I remember one year in particular, we were concerned that Santa wouldn't come because it hadn't snowed, (because as everyone knows, you can't drive a sleigh and eight tiny reindeer without snow....)

Not to worry. My parents assured us that Santa would be using his special helicopter that year, which he keeps around for non-snow years! We believed every word and slept peacefully on Christmas Eve that year, secure in the knowledge that Santa would make it--snow or no.

As for Christmas Eve itself--talk about THE longest night of the year, ever. It seemed like it would never been morning, but then we'd hear Santa's "Ho ho ho" in our dreams and we'd know all was well.

I still love Christmas, though I miss the wonder of the holiday through a child's eyes. As an adult, it's not quite as magical unless there are little ones around. Still, it's nice to think that for a few days each year we can enjoy some peace and goodwill...

Photo of Santa Claus courtesy of the U.S. Library of Congress.

Cover photo of Betty Crocker's Cookie Book courtesy of


Miss Understood said...

Fantastic memories Janet. You are so right. Christmas, without little ones around, just isn't the same. I can't wait for Grandchildren so I can do it all over again.

And thanks for the mention! xx

verniciousknids said...

What a lovely post. Your comment about Santa needing snow made me laugh as being from Australia, Christmas is in summer for us!

Janet M. Kincaid said...

Well, see.... There's why Santa has a helicopter, otherwise, how else would he get presents to all the good little girls and boys on the other half of the Equator?

Christmas in summer.... I've only ever lived north of zero latitude. I think the closest I ever came to that was when I lived in the San Francisco/Bay Area where a) it rarely if ever snows at sea level and b) it's actually warmer in the winter in S.F. than it is in the summer.

Holly said...

Hey Janet--

lovely post.

We also got new pajamas specially made by Mom for Christmas. Going to bed in those new pj's was one of the best things about Christmas Eve.