By Tamara, December 2014
As usual, the months are sailing by, and I can’t believe the holidays are here already—yes, the hustle and bustle that sometimes drives Moms over the edge is here!
For example; there’s the fight with Dad to hang the outside lights on the Friday after Thanksgiving, the shopping, the wrapping, decorating the house & tree, baking and cooking…invitations to be sent out, or travel plans made if by some stroke of luck, Aunt Betty is having the big dinner and mass hysteria at her house this year!
But thru’ it all, I think most families look forward to Christmastime all year long, and feel a bit let-down when it’s over…
I think the worst part for my Mom at the holidays was trying to keep us settled down, and entertained for the two week break we got from school between Christmas and New Year’s Day. We were crazy wild to be out in the snow playing, anxious to participate in the celebrations, and to open those gifts under the tree with our name on the little tags. There were few, but we were just as excited over them as kids nowadays with a mountain of stuff assigned to them under the tree each year.
There was always the Christmas play during the last week of school, and the choir or play at church to prepare for and keep us practicing too, and Santa’s arrival in town on the fire truck to hand out bags of hard striped candies, nuts, and a juicy orange in the very bottom. There were all sorts of activities to attend in our small town. The streets and stores were gaily decorated, (after Thanksgiving) and people seemed a lot less concerned about the woes of life during the Christmas Season.
How I loved to hear all the Christmas songs on the radio Mom played all day long. I still get a shiver when I hear my favorites of the fifties when I was but a we sprout soaking in the wonders of the holidays like a sponge—Bing Crosby sang, “White Christmas”, Gene Autry, “Here comes Santa Claus”, Eddy Arnold, “Jolly Old St. Nicholas”, Dean Martin, “Walkin’ In A Winter Wonderland”, Perry Como, “Ave' Maria”, and Nat King Cole sang, “The Christmas Song,” (though, when young, I wondered what roast chestnuts were, and had never tasted them in my life—nor have I to this day.) These songs and others were heard and sung along loudly to all during the Christmas holidays while we kids played card games such as Rummy or Old Maids. We also played Checkers, or put picture puzzles together regularly.
We always spent Thanksgiving at home, (meaning our town) but most Christmas’ were spent in Medical Lake Washington, (about twenty miles from Spokane) where my fraternal grandparents had their farm. As farmers know, THE COWS DON’T KNOW ITS CHRISTMAS, so the grandparents couldn’t leave them to travel our way, and share the holiday with us in Twisp, (for which I’m glad because there was nothing like being on their farm at Christmastime.)
Grandma’s kitchen was always warm and cozy, and smelled of hot bread and thick slabs of fried bacon as we stumbled in with cold noses after following Grandpa and Dad out to the barn, mostly getting in their way, as they milked twenty cows by hand. (Grandma must have loved when Dad visited so she could be relieved of that task twice daily.)
Mom would sleep in those mornings to indulge in what she never was allowed at home with three kids to get off to school and chores of her own to do.
I’ll never forget how oatmeal tasted cooked on Gran’s woodstove, then left to thicken and stay warm on a second shelf just above the burners on the stove, or grandma’s breakfast rolls, and that bacon I talked about a couple paragraphs ago, and fresh eggs anyway you wanted them cooked in pure lard to grease the pan. I’ve never eaten breakfasts like that before or since.
I don’t know why we opened our meager gifts on Christmas Eve rather than Christmas morning, but I highly suspect for two reasons—one being; Dad never let us believe there was a Santa Claus so why wait for the jolly old boy to deliver our gifts in the night, and secondly; so the exhilaration would come to an end with us three kids falling all over each other, and wrestling around ‘til Mom could stand it no longer.
On that special gift opening day, my two aunts, on Dad’s side, would arrive with their latest boyfriend or husband, (they had many, but no kids) and we’d have our evening meal—kids gulping food down thinking it would hurry the adults into the living room, and under the tree. It never did, but remember; we thought as kids back then…
It usually snowed on Christmas Day, and that only added to memories we’d cherish for a lifetime. Looking out at the barn and cattle covered in white fluff, and playing with our new toys was such fun on that day.
Now, do you honestly think children today have anything close to those simple but lovely memories of times we spent with family & friends celebrating traditions started hundreds of years before by our ancestors doing the very same thing?
Nowadays, I look forward to Christmas celebrations at my church even more than in the past because with each year, I have a greater understanding and appreciation of the real meaning of Christmas—yes, “JESUS IS THE REASON FOR THE SEASON!!!”
Below are two Christmas poem favorites I’ve written in the past….
The funniest thing
just happened to me
when my husband, Beau,
decorated our tree.
He said he could do it,
it would be such a treat,
and I gave in to him—
since he offered so sweet.
He got out the boxes
I’d carefully stored,
and told me to relax,
try just to look bored.
I’d shopped, and I’d baked,
wrapped presents galore,
tramped thru’ deep snow
not missing a store.
I guess he felt guilty,
as sometimes he should—
I thought, Ok, fine,
this might do him some good.
I poured a nice wine,
and sat on the couch.
He just got the tree up—
when it fell, he screamed, “Ouch!”
I started to laugh—
it was all I could do
with Beau under the tree,
his legs all askew.
He got it back up,
and then came the lights—
could take him all night.
He wound strings across,
then around he did go,
with them not too even,
but I didn’t mind so.
I laughed once again,
when I saw the fine mess
he made with the garland
tho’ trying his best.
Then came the bulbs—
pouring my second wine,
I snuggled into the couch
for a laughing good time.
Large bulbs on top
small on the bottom—
I thought I would die
when he said, “There, I got ‘em!”
By now, Beau was tiring—
just ornaments to go,
and he tried to hang each
quite gently, and slow.
For the fun would be over
if those heirlooms he broke—
he knew I’d be angry,
and his neck I might choke.
But when it was finished,
Beau turned the lights on,
and we both got the giggles—
thought we’d laugh until dawn.
We kept it thru’ Christmas
in it’s crooked red stand—
and some of our guest
even said it looked grand.
And, for all the sweet gestures
Beau made on that night
trying to help,
tho’ the tree was a sight,
I’d not trade one moment—
those memories were great,
and next year at this time,
we’ll have another—Tree Date!
She traded her Stetson for a shiny gold crown,
fur on the collar of a red velvet gown,
And boots on her feet for delicate shoes,
a house on the hill with nothing to lose.
From gal on the ranch—to queen of the hill,
reliving the life of the real “Diamond Lil.”
She celebrates Christmas with a gala event
making sure folks all know money she’s spent.
The tree’s decorated with the finest of lights,
and servants are hustling most of the night.
Her house is aglow to show where they are
like that star leading shepherds to Jesus afar.
The music, the dancing, the drinks that will flow,
the parking attendants showing folks where to go.
Yes, the city will turn out to laugh and to dine,
and let the new queen show them all a good time.
But I wonder when lights dim, and she’s left alone,
will she think of the Christmas’ she spent back home?
Will she remember the cowboy who once loved her so,
and the kisses we shared standing ‘neath mistletoe,
The long rides together in the light of the moon
when I took out my guitar, and sang her a tune,
Or plans that we made to stay on the ranch
if she had it to do over, would she take that chance?
Would she stay on the prairie with me here below,
or choose once again to seek money and show?
Does she find comfort in the things of this world,
or would she trade it all now to be just a cowgirl?
Would she marry the rich man whose life is his gold,
leave this cowboy who dreamed with her he’d grow old?
I wonder each year as we reach Christmas Day,
if she ever imagined the price that she’d pay?
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