More Christsmas Traditions–Part V
Christmas Eve is a week and half away, and this will be the final post of this Christmas series. If you will permit me, I’m going to take you back to 1943 or 1944 and write this post from the perspective of an eight or nine year old boy. When I look back on Christmas Eve as a boy growing up in Grace, Idaho, and then later in Soda Springs, ever more memories come to the fore. Christmas in Grace during the 1940s was not unlike that as it was portrayed in the holiday movie favorite, “A Christmas Story.” The memories of youth always seem to be the ones that stick. Memories that included sitting around the radio listening to the Christmas shows, and Christmas music until it was time for bed.
Then began the long awaited boyhood anticipation of this writer for the arrival of Santa Claus. We had a tradition in our house that we could open one present on Christmas Eve, but the rest would have to wait until the following morning. I was most always awake by four a.m., but had received strict orders to remain in bed until six. Those were the longest two hours of my young life. The excitement until I could get out of bed to see if Santa had filled my wish list almost did me in. My list was not all that long, since people were more frugal in those days, and also because of the shortage of toys due to the war. I usually was granted one main item from Santa and a few little “stocking stuffer” type presents that usually consisted of things I needed; such as a new shirt, or socks, or under wear; and maybe one candy treat if it were available.
Speaking of wartime candy treats, it took me until just a few years ago to get over my disdain for dark chocolate. It happened one Christmas during the war. Hershey milk chocolate bars were my favorite back then, and candy of any sort was very scarce. This particular Christmas I found a Hershey bar in my stocking. Yay!!! A Hershey bar. I gleefully unwrapped it and took a healthy bite, which I immediately spit out. Instead of milk chocolate, it was Bitter Sweet chocolate. Dear Mom. I think to her dying day, she didn’t realize that a Bitter Sweet chocolate Hershey bar was not an acceptable substitute for a Hershey milk chocolate bar. I think she thought a Hershey bar was a Hershey bar, and I would love it. Wrong, Mom! 🙂 I don’t know why Bitter Sweet was available while milk chocolate was not. Maybe it had something to do with the rationing of sugar and butter. I think that childhood experience must have traumatized me. 🙂 As I said earlier it was years before I could tolerate dark chocolate. But I digress; back to my original story.
At six on the dot, I would go in and wake up Mom and Dad to come see what Santa had left. My sisters were six and half years younger than I, so I had this little ritual all to myself until they were old enough to understand what Santa was about. And with them being that much younger, I was able to serve as Santa’s helper for a few more years after I realized Santa had turned his chores for my gifts over to Mom and Dad. Playing Santa for younger siblings had its rewards. It was almost as much fun as having Santa visit me when I was younger.
After the gifts were all distributed and unwrapped, it was time for Mom’s traditional Christmas breakfast of ham and eggs, and pancakes with lots of Log Cabin Syrup. In those days, many of you will recall, Log Cabin syrup came in a can shaped like a log cabin. The chimney was the pour spout . Eventually—due to a tin shortage caused by the war effort—came the time when the company was no longer able to put syrup in those cans. Mom, in her good wisdom, knew how much those log cabin cans meant to a kid. Log Cabin syrup just wasn’t Log Cabin unless it came from that log cabin can. She saved the used cans and poured the syrup, which now came in bottles, into them.
Then after breakfast it was outside to try out the new sleigh on the snow packed village streets, or the new ice skates on the frozen canal on the north edge of town. Or if that year was the year for the new dump truck, it was outside to haul lots of snow, pretending it was dirt, to build roads all across the field behind the house.
While childhood memories are nice, I believe it’s appropriate that we take time, on this occasion of celebrating our Saviors birth, to reflect. We live in a very harried world, and every year, things seem to get worse. It’s comforting to me, to know that there is a higher being that will one day straighten things out for us meager inadequate humans.
I would also like to take this opportunity to thank all you readers of this blog who have expressed to me your appreciation for these posts over the past six months. It’s very gratifying when a writer learns that his readers enjoy his work. To you all, it’s my wish that you have a Merry Christmas and a Happy and Joyous New Year. The Good Lord Willin’, I’ll be here again next week with another post.
But until I’m back live, you might consider taking a peek at my book entitled, Buddy…His Trials and Treasures. You can click on the free download button at upper right of this webpage to receive a free sample of the prologue and the first three complete adventures of Buddy.