As the Christmas season begins I can’t help but reflect upon Christmases past. One of my earliest memories, though vague, is of being very happy to have received a “Ridem’ Fifi” toy, which was a pink plastic ride on poodle. (Can you imagine that?!) I don’t really remember other specific toys I received, but rather impressions of how Christmas was. My mother always baked massive quantities of cookies, many of which were given as gifts to teachers. We did Christmas crafts together; I still have one ornament that I hang on the tree every year. Other projects included paper chains, tin foil chains, decorating stockings, and my favorite thing was painting Christmas scenes and symbols on the windows with poster paints. With four kids, our tiny living room was full of people all the time and extra full with a decorated tree and piles of gifts crammed into one corner.
Christmas morning was a frenzy of squeals, laughter, and wrapping paper flying as we ripped into the treasures. Hot chocolate and Christmas Stollen were staples on the big morning in our house. After that we’d pack up the stuffed turkey my mother had cooked all night and go to our grandparents’ house an hour away. Although we were sad to have to leave our new toys, it was nice to be in my grandparents’ warm house which smelled of dinner, the different perfumes of the assembled women, my father’s pipe smoke, and burning wood from the furnace in the old farm house. What a beautiful gift it was indeed to have been surrounded by the love of family on Christmas, and to have these memories.