More Memories of Christmases Past–PART III
We’re in the Christmas season, and I thank Reminisce Magazine for inspiring and providing material for this blog post. I was reading a past December/January issue where I came across a column written by the late Clancy Strock. This column brought back many childhood memories of Christmas for me. One of those memories was, as he put it, “Christmas Has Always Lit Our Lives.” This is true in many ways, but he was referring primarily to Christmas lights.
He wrote about his mother saying she remembered when the lights on the Christmas tree were candles. Can you imagine in this super safety-conscious highly regulated society we live in today, families getting away with lighting their trees with candles? Those candles may have served the purpose for which they were intended—lighting the tree—but they also had the potential for lighting up the whole house—big time.
He mentioned the old fashioned lights he grew up with; those that were wired in series where, if one bulb burned out, the whole string went dead. I remember those, myself. I also remember my mother going through the whole string with a new bulb in hand, removing each bulb one at a time until she found the one that was burned out. Sometimes, if she were lucky, she might find the culprit with the second or third bulb—never the first. 🙂 There were even times when she had gone through the whole string only to find the last bulb to be the one she was looking for.
Or…to make matters even worse she might go through the whole string to no avail. This brought a multitude of conclusions; the supposed new bulb she used was a dud, more than one bulb in the string had burned out at the same time, or something in the string of lights itself had gone bad. Fortunately, if my memory serves correctly, the latter was never the case.
My mother was such a fussbudget about her tree, that if that had been the case, I have no doubt she would have undecorated the tree and replaced that string of lights. She just could not live with a half-lit tree. It was a great boon to the tree lighting operation when the manufacturers came out with the parallel lights where one bulb could burn out without darkening the whole string.
Mr. Strock also made mention of some of the old thin glass Christmas tree ornaments we used to have. Those I remember, also. So fragile, that when they fell from the tree—which always happened on more than one occasion—and if they happen to hit a hard surface, would literally explode and shatter into a million little shards of glass. He wrote of the family cat bringing some of these ornaments down from the tree. We never had an in-house cat or dog. Blondie, our pet Golden Cocker was confined to her doghouse in the garage, so our ornaments fell due to other circumstances.
Remember the old-fashioned tin foil icicles? Those had to be hung with great care on our family tree. Every icicle had to hang just so—straight and even. Very rarely was I allowed to help hang those. I would start out hanging them very carefully, but in my child-like impatience I would soon be found tossing the shiny tinsels randomly at the tree with them landing where and how they might. This did not set well with Mom, and I was fired. 🙂 I think when my younger twin sisters became old enough to help with this chore, they may have had enough patience to do it right. Consequently, I don’t remember them ever being fired from the task.
Then as Mr. Strock also mentioned, there was the dusting of the tree with a bit of snow. Now days it’s referred to as flocking, and comes out of a spray can. But as he mentioned, back in his youth and mine, our snow came from boxes of Lux or Ivory Flakes. When it came time to “snow” the tree, Mom would let us kids help—me included. I guess she figured, how can you go wrong throwing snowflakes at a tree?
I think the most important memories of Christmas from my youth, however, is that Christmas was in Christmas. Christmas was in the Carols we heard on the radio, and in the stores; Christmas was in the cards we received, and folks were greeted on the street with a hearty Merry Christmas. Every one was aware of “the reason for the season” and didn’t worry about offending someone because they were observing it. There was none of this silly politically correct Happy Holidays nonsense. So I say to all of you who read this post, “ here’s an early wish for you all to have a very MERRY CHRISTMAS.” Stay tuned. More in this series to come in the following posts.
In the meantime, if nostalgia is your thing, you might enjoy reading my book, Buddy…His Trials and Treasures. If you click on the free download at upper right of this page, you will get, free, the prologue and first three complete adventures contained in this book. Happy reading.