Today we’re visiting with the ghosts of Christmases past today on the 12 Days of Blogmas.
When I was younger (ages 3-6 or so) we lived at my grandmother’s house. There was a rule that I couldn’t wake up the grown-ups on Christmas morning but I could go and get my stocking off the banister and play with whatever was inside while I waited for them. The one Christmas that really stands out in that house, I remember getting up when the house was quiet, getting my stocking, and bringing it back to bed (with my Bambi blanket with the white fringe). On the top of my stocking was an envelope with my name on it and inside were a couple sets of plastic barrettes. I don’t remember what else was in there (though there was probably an orange in the toe–does anyone else have that tradition, too?), but I remember the barrettes.
When I mentioned this to Aunt M a few years back, she told me that she was the one responsible for getting those stockings made and hung up each year; I learned something new!
There’s also a story about the banister, itself. See, this was my grandmother’s dream home and she was adamant that it would be single story. But my grandfather, apparently, couldn’t pass up a good deal, and as he was driving through town they were tearing down a bank and this sweeping staircase was just sitting there. So he bought it and had it hauled to their property and added to the house. It was a very impressive staircase that went up to two, small attic rooms that were never really meant to be. Aunt M used one as a study area when she was still in school and my little cousins used one of the rooms as a bedroom when they stayed there.
I like to think that I’d do the same as my grandfather… it’s a shame to let good architectural salvage go to waste.
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The Great Rum Ball Caper
Another memory from that same time period involves holiday baking. I was too young to really help with all the older cousins, aunts, and everyone in the kitchen, but I could watch from the kitchen table as they make cookies, date loaf, candies, and–my favorite–rum balls. I was allowed one or two when they were made but then they were put away into a stainless steel canister and placed in the pantry.
I was not, apparently, content to settle for the rum balls I was previously allotted, so I took matters into my own hands. At some point later Mom found me, in the dark, walk-in pantry, with the canister of rum balls in my lap as I munched away.
I remember this every time I make rum balls at home.
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Cabbage Patch Madness
Oh, man, when Cabbage Patch kids first came out they were the Tickle Me Elmo of our generation (or, well, Tickle Me Elmo was the Cabbage Patch Kids of the next generation, since they came first, but you know what I mean). They were the It Toy and sold out as soon as they arrived in stores. And, of course, I wanted one just like every girl my age. I remember going to Service Merchandise (does anyone else remember that store?) and seeing the barest aisles where the CPK were supposed to be.
That year was one of the few we went back to Louisiana for Christmas, to visit Mom’s family. And I remember many things from that trip: the sleepover with the distant cousins while they gossiped about Burt Reynolds and Dolly Parton; the dance party that my uncle filmed on his Camcorder with various cousins doing the worm, the snake, and the highly questionable dance that simulated cracking an egg on one’s head (and, yes, that video got trotted out every time we’d go home to visit for years); and the grown-ups making us little ones Shirley Temples while they had their beer and cocktails in the other room.
And, of course, I remember getting up on Christmas morning and seeing Cabbage Patch Kids under the tree. It was the first time I’d seen Santa gifts left unwrapped and on display.
My first Cabbage Patch had green eyes andÂ orange hair and was named Eva Eleanor. My cousins had entire nurseries full of CBK, I topped out at two, but I was still giddy to visit the Cabbage Patch Museum in northern Georgia in 2006 when we were nearby visiting friends. (They gave our CPKs Visitor name badges–probably to make sure they didn’t try to charge us when we left, lol.)
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Walking on Thin Ice
One year Mom wanted to get my brothers a swing set for Christmas, but she wanted it to just magically appear in the yard, all put together on Christmas morning. So she had a neighbor put it together in their yard and the plan was that we’d go over and get it after the boys went to bed on Christmas Eve.
That was one of the coldest Christmases I can remember. There was ice on the ground and the steel of the swing set was bitterly cold. But we “walked” the set across three yards, trying not to slip and bust our asses on the ice, in pajamas and robes, in the middle of the night.
Granted, the swing set still couldn’t be played on until holes were dug for the legs and concrete anchors poured, but we pulled off the surprise.
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Bricks Instead of Coal
Growing up it was always Mom who took care of stocking stuffers and, in past relationships, I would take over buying little things for the stockings for others as well as myself. By the time Todd and I got together I’d gotten better at asking for what I wanted as opposed to just waiting for someone to read my mind and step up, so I asked that we include the stockings as part of our Christmas gifts–that he would fill mine and I would fill his. And Todd was cool with that.
(See, folks, when you communicate things get a lot simpler!)
One year in particular we both went a little overboard with the stocking stuffers to the point that the stocking were pulling over the weighted stocking hangers sitting on the mantle. We would each sneak into the living room at different times to fill the stockings and I’d already had to grab a brick from the yard (which I wrapped in foil to make it, uh, festive) to keep Todd’s from tipping over when I heard him having the same sort of trouble from the other room!
It always amuses me when we end up on the same page–be it both wanting froyo on the same night or over-stuffing the stockings the same year.