Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Musings about Christmas Days and Memories Past

This is the time of year that the memories come.
I wrote about my Christmas memories a couple of years ago ("A Baby Boomer's Christmas Eve Memories"), but I thought I would do it again, just because I can. 
So this is a bit of a recap and a bit of an update and also a musing on what makes for wonderful holiday memories.  If you read that first one, I hope you will enjoy some nostalgia again and if you didn't, welcome to my world!
For great holiday memories...
First, ya gotta have some snow!
I grew up in the Midwest and there was nothing more magical than snow falling on Christmas Eve and waking up to a white Christmas.  And don't think snow in the Midwest is a given.  I can remember snow storms in November and snow storms in February (sometimes March, too) but Christmas remained dry.
It doesn't snow much in the lowlands of Western Washington so I was happy when it did.  The picture above was a view out our front window and the picture below the view out from our bedroom - our first Christmas in Washington. 
If you celebrate Christmas, ya gotta have a tree!
My mother was very particular about how the tree should look, especially with those silver icicles that were so popular back when I was young.  I think she meant well by letting my brother and me help decorate the tree, but when we started to throw the icicles onto the tree to see who could get them the highest, she couldn't handle it.  We were banned from tree trimming. 
When I became a mother, I had a similar experience. I  loved my children and wanted them to participate in decorating the tree, but they just didn't do it the way I wanted it done.  So it became my provenance.  Remember that thing about be careful of what you wish for? 
It has now become a gigantic chore.  This Christmas, Hubby and I did all of the decorating in one day.  He does the lights and I do the trees and other decorations inside the house.  It almost killed us! By the time I had twisted the 100th red velvet bow on the tree, I was ready for a glass of wine -- or three!  I would have given anything for those kids to be here to help me with the tree, no matter what the outcome! 
Ya gotta have stockings -- and for the dogs too!
Rosy, Chuck, Mildred, Freddy and Tarquin.  And let's just say I didn't name my children Mildred, Freddy and Tarquin.
Ya Gotta Have Holiday Cards
Though it has practically become a thing of the past, I still send out Christmas cards. 
Sending out Christmas cards is a way to keep in touch with friends who live far and wide.  I still do it, though we don't send family photos, and I do NOT believe in the long bragging letter about what little Mabel did in the school play and how great little Robby's report card was. 
What I DO believe in is sending out cards with a personal message to your friends telling them what they mean to you or sharing a happy memory.
Here is the Christmas card photo for my first Christmas.
I can't believe my mother wore the same hat for her Christmas card photo two years in a row! 
And what is my sister doing in this photo below?  She looks like she is practicing to be a femme fatale.  

Our collie, Echo, finally got to be in the picture and I guess my brother was into Marlon Brando in "The Wild One!" 
Do you notice a trend with these family Christmas card photos? 

In every one of them, one of us has his or her face covered or is looking down or giving a strange expression.  I have a feeling my Dad set up his camera to take these, and I guess film must have cost a lot then, because it doesn't look like he did many retakes!  There is not one perfect picture in the bunch.  I guess that's also a metaphor for families, don't you think?
Also, I always thought my mother had beautiful handwriting, which you can see here.  Did you know the schools do not teach cursive writing anymore?  That is another trend. Why are we OK with that?  Pretty soon our kids will be signing their names with an "X."
Speaking of trends...
My first doll.
You can see that dolls played a big part in my life. 
I was 12 when I got my first Barbie (they had just come out.  That's how old I am), and I really wanted that doll canopy bed!  If I had that Barbie now, I would be rich! Long story and I digress. I don't think 12-year-old girls play with dolls anymore.  They are playing with boys!  It was a more innocent time when we didn't have cell phones and the Internet. 

If you celebrate Christmas, going to see Santa with your little one is a must!
But not THIS Santa!

It's an absolute must, if you celebrate Christmas, to take your child to see Santa.  However, NOT a Santa like this one!  You can see from my expression I am scared to death.  I can see my toes curling up in my snow boots from here. Where did they get that guy? That's more like what nightmares are made of, not happy memories!


Now THAT'S what a proper Santa should look like.

Then the next grandchild came along and off we went to see Santa again.  This guy gets a lot of work!




This year the youngest grandson didn't share my love of this "proper Santa," so only the oldest shared his Christmas list with Santa.

But the two of them enjoyed their Paw Patrol characters from Glammy and Papi!

And ya gotta take photos!
My Dad loved to take pictures.

He always had the best cameras and took a LOT of pictures. Every moment of our lives was an opportunity to take a picture:  First day of school, first dance, Easter, new outfit, you name it, there is a photo. 

But do you see a trend in how my Dad liked to pose us? 

Other than our looking in a mirror, which was also a favorite, he also liked to pose us in such "natural" poses as my putting an ornament on the tree. 

Well, we already know my mother did not allow me to help trim the tree so right there, that is not natural, but since I am posing exactly the same at the age of 12 and at the age of 16, putting that damn ornament on the tree, my Dad obviously had a thing about this particular pose. You can see in the first one, though, that I was a dramatic 12-year-old and was into it, because I tried to add some flair by holding my skirt up.  By 16, I had had about enough of this stuff, which you can kind of tell from my expression.  Not sure what was going on with my hair, here, though.

Here are a couple of the mirror ones.

Objects that evoke memories.
Here I am at on my second Christmas. 
That tree is very anemic and not the type of tree I remember.  Times must have been tough for my parents.

But looking at this picture, I see those chairs.
I have those chairs. 
Those chairs and I have a history.  Here I am at about one year old and there are those chairs.  Years later as a teen I would sit watching TV with my Dad, sitting in one of those chairs with one of my legs dangling over the arm of the chair eating a couple of pieces of toast.  My Mom would come in and say, "Rosellen, get your leg off of the chair and don't eat in the living room!" 
I think those chairs were the first pieces of furniture my parents bought together which would make them almost 90 years old.  They have been recovered many times and need to be recovered again, but I just love those chairs and hope that one of my kids will take care of them too when I am gone. 
Here is what the chairs look like today.
In need of recovering once again and a bit lumpy, but well loved. 
Upholsterers say that they make their money from nostalgia and sentimentality.  Otherwise, why would we pay as much to have an old chair reupholstered as we would to buy a new chair?  But there are no chairs from Macy's that would give me as much pleasure as these chairs do.  When I sit in those chairs, I feel my whole young life surrounding me with love, lumps and all, even though I am no longer young and have my own lumps to deal with.
Long Distance Holidays 

After college, I moved west to California, thousands of miles from my family and relatives.  I had my first professional library job in northern California, in a very rural area that didn't even have a McDonalds.  The biggest thrill living there was going to the Sears catalog store. 

I have had regrets over the years about moving so far from my family so that my kids never really got to know their Grammy and Granddaddy, but my Dad always said he admired my bravery in moving out West and wished he could have done it.  You see, my Dad always wanted to be a cowboy.  So when I saw this shirt in the Western store (no McDonalds but western stores abounded), I sent it to him for Christmas.  My Dad was also very good at showing his appreciation so he sent me this picture proudly wearing the shirt.

Then I had my own children. 

I came up with what I thought was an ingenious way to protect the Christmas tree from my first-born toddler!

First Christmas with Hubby. 

Presents from Grandparents

My mother sent our son a little Santa toy that played Christmas carols and moved around the floor.  The problem was it only played about four songs and played them over and over...and over and over. You can see the delight our son has in this toy so he played with it constantly.  However, by the 200th "Jingle Bells," Hubby and I thought we would be driven 'round the bend so little Santa mysteriously disappeared.

Our daughter's first Christmas. 

And then many Christmases passed and the kids grew up, got married and moved away.  They now had other families to spend Christmas with.

And we spent some Christmases alone.

Holidays alone

And because my brother, sister and I had moved so far away, my parents also spent many Christmases on their own. 

The irony of that parallel and how my parents must have felt about that when I moved away was not lost on me
(See the chairs they are sitting in)?

The first time Hubby and I found ourselves alone for Christmas, we decided, "Hell, let's go to Paris!  We will have the place to ourselves."

Not quite. We learned that other people like to travel over the holidays, other people and their entire families so Paris was crowded.  But it was still a welcome relief from spending our first Christmas alone without our kids.


Another time we found ourselves alone, we wandered off to Orcas Island in the San Juan Islands and stayed at the Rosario Resort.

In total contrast to Paris at Christmas, we DID have Orcas Island to ourselves and a beautiful view from our room.  However, having a place to yourself, especially on an island in the middle of nowhere, has its drawbacks.  At Christmas, Orcas Island closes up tighter than a drum.   Nothing was open so we spent most of our time in the hotel bar. Not necessarily a bad thing.

Hubby even managed to get a spot in the evening's entertainment!

But we have also had wonderful times with our children and their families too, made all the more precious remembering those times we were alone.


The holidays are all about family, love and lots of memories.

Though we don't always have control over who we will spend Christmas with and we miss our grown children and our grandchildren very much, especially over the holidays, we always know we have these guys! 
Share Your Holiday memories!
From us to you 
Happy Holidays everyone!
Thanks for Reading!
 And if you are looking for
something to do on Christmas Day,
See you Friday for my review
of the new Rocky film

The Week in Reviews

(What to See or Read and What to Avoid)
 and the latest on
My 1001 Movies I Must See Before
 I Die Project."


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  1. Nice photos :)
    BLOG M&MFASHIONBITES : http://mmfashionbites.blogspot.gr/
    Maria V.

  2. What is it about Christmas that can make us both happy and sad? I always love your old fotos and the Christmas ones remind me of our childhood Christmases which were spectacular!

    I love that your family had a foto to send out every year and so glad you kept them. As I was looking I thought your mom had great handwriting and then there was your exact same comment! It is sad cursive is no longer taught in school. I was thinking as Christmas cards came in this year how I can id the person just by their handwriting and I miss my older friends who have passed and had truly lovely writing. Funny little things that trigger so many memories. Handwriting is one of them.

    I am struck by the second foto of you hanging the ornament...cuz of those wild drapes! We had something similar but scenes of Paris. Sheesh.

    I also notice the movie posters in your first Christmases with your own family.

    Funny...my dad wanted to be a cowboy (or a mountain man after reading Men to Match My Mountains). We bought him a silver sheriff's star when he retired. Clearly I missed the boat on getting him a cowboy shirt!! Love your dad's pose.

    Right there with you on doggy xmas outfits ;)

    Happy Holidays to you and all your lovely family including the furry kids!!


  3. Forgot to mention the "mirror" photos. That must have been a big thing when we were young. I have a few of brides in the family sitting at mirrored dressing tables gazing into the mirror. Your dad was on to something!


    1. Thanks, sazzy, for your always thoughtful comments. I appreciate them and look forward to them! I, too, wish you a happy and wonderful New Year!