Title: T - Tinsel, Toys, and Turkey
Tags: Christmas, memories,
Blog Entry: I gave myself a bit of a break from writing stories. I keep hoping that others will join our fun and submit some of their stories. In the meantime, I still have a few letters to complete this round of the Alphabet Challenge, so I'm at it again! I’m sure you will have guessed that this blog has to do with Christmas. Well, part of it is but it is a story about our family, mixed together with some my childhood memories.  Growing up on a farm, we made ‘do’ with a lot of things that we now take for granted. Christmas was a huge occasion and celebration, at home, at school and at church. We didn’t have close neighbors, but there were a lot of relatives who gathered at many homes for celebrations of food (I don’t know what else to call it). Everything was homemade, starting with Christmas fruit cake that was made no later than October. It had to age properly in a stone crock, with a bit of brandy added to give it a unique flavor. For a family who never touched any alcohlic beverages, this was always a challenge to have someone who was brave enough to venture into a beer parlor to purchase the “vile” stuff, without being recognize, just because of the Christmas cake. The men in the famly were responsible to find an evergreen tree that they could cut down and bring home for moms and kids to decorate. We didn’t have any electricity, but sometimes Mom would light candles and place them in holders that were attached to the tree branches. I don’t remember anyone making comments about fire hazards, because we used koiloil lamps to light the room every evening. I do remember how important tinsel was to decorate the tree, wo give it some sparkle. It wasn't a lot of fun picking all those glittery strings off the tree after Christmas, but we needed to save it for next year. The most important item we looked for in the mail was the Sears cataloge. The first Sears Wish Book was printed in 1933, and it contained toys and other holiday-related merchandise. We spent hours looking at wonderful toys and “store-bought” clothes. If we didn’t pick the most expensive item, but kept in mind that Mom and Dad didn’t have very much money, we were likely to receive that as a gift. What joy it was to find a new doll, or even a toy truck, under the Christmas tree. The Christmas Party at my country school was a community party... parents and neighbors (even if they didn’t have any children attending the school) joined the school pupils for an evening of games and singing. Santa Claus would drop by with his sack of gifts, and we all went home with a small gift (supplied to Santa by our parents), and a brown paper bag filled with treats (gum, suckers, nuts in the shell, etc.) and topped with a 'Japanese' orange, now called a Mandarine orange. We would receive similar treat bags at church, after the program presented by the Sunday School children. We learned poems, often referred to as resitations, and sang songs, and some got to dress up like shepherds and wise men, or even Mary and Joseph, with a real baby in a manger. There was nothing professional about the participants, only joy and laughter, as we learned the real story of Christmas. In our family now, we have a different take on Christmas. We love to get together, even if we have to travel a long distance. Only the school-age grandchildren receive gifts, with one rule for the grandparents. Only ONE gift for a grandchild, and that doesn’t mean one big box the multiple items inside.  It was our two adult kids who suggested some twenty years ago that we should stop stressing over Christmas shopping because none of us “need” anything. We try to focus on what we can give, not what we can get. Oh... about the turkey! What can I say about my growing up experience. I eat a bit now, because that is “what we do at Christmas”, along with a helping of Brussel Sprouts that is a traditional “must”, even though very few in the family like that vegitable. On the farm, my mother raised turkeys, and I played with them. I didn’t like eating a piece of my playmate, especially the ones that responded when I called out their name.