A few days ago, I went up to the attic and pulled out two reindeer to sit on our table. The table is sitting in the middle of the kitchen right now (not its normal spot). Somehow, I didn’t plan too well and we had all 22 of our windows replaced a week ago. Every bit of furniture has been pushed to the center of each room. All the blinds were taken down and over four days all the windows were replaced. With all the craziness and disruption of the window installation, I knew I wasn’t going to put up the tree and decorate this year.
I grew up in Wisconsin until I was 10 years old and then we moved to Minnesota. For Thanksgiving and Christmas we would always go to a relative’s house in Wisconsin and have a nice family holiday. It was either at my Great Aunt Adeline’s house or my Great Aunt Ida’s house. It was a planned potluck. I remember after we moved to MN, the requested item for us to bring was French Silk pies from Bakers Square (formerly known as Poppin Fresh Pies.)
I remember what fun it was, as a child, being with all those people. I don’t remember if it was a Thanksgiving or a Christmas get together that my second cousin, Mark, worked with me as I learned to tie my shoes. There was lots of activity around us and dinner was suddenly on the table. My brother and I were seated at the “kids table”, you know, the card table off to the side for kids. We were the youngest in the group and I don’t remember the “kids table” being such a terrible place to be. There were so many people that a few of the adults were seated there with us.
Aunt Adeline had a beautiful Victorian house, complete with a turret. The staircase had two ladings were it turned 90 degrees and kept going up. On the first landing sat her enormous Christmas cactus, always in bloom at the right time. My second cousin now lives in that house and still has the Christmas cactus, but it seems to have a mind of its own now and blooms when it wants, not when you want it to.
I remember one year I spent Christmas with my exchange family in Tasmania. It certainly was strange to be sitting out on the deck in shorts instead of being in knee deep snow in Minnesota. Then we celebrated Boxing Day complete with snags (sausages) and oysters on the barbie. Another Christmas was spent in Kenya where my husband and I were living at the time. We celebrated with the friends we had made there. It was a nice day and we all had many family stories to tell and share in the laughter.
Since I moved away from Minnesota in the late 90’s we have had eclectic Christmas gatherings. Where ever we are living we will invite friends and neighbors over for a meal if they are not celebrating with their family. This year we have decided to have a quiet Christmas, just the two of us. My husband doesn’t get many days to sit and relax that I figured we would try that this year. He has requested a few special dishes for me to cook and there will be plenty of food. I know we will enjoy the left-overs for several days.
I have been playing Christmas music, but I still haven’t found my favorite Christmas album (yup, the old round black vinyl thing). I don’t have a record player to play it on, I just want to set it out and look at it. Gene Autry’s Rudolph the Red nosed Reindeer – that was my favorite album, although I did like one by Andy Williams also. And the weatherman says there is a chance of snow. While many of the northern states are still without snow, we may be getting some in South Texas!
As I reflect on our family traditions and talk with my husband about his memories, I realize that we do not have any of our own family traditions. I asked my husband if he would be alright if I made pizza for our Christmas dinner. He said he would rather have stuffing, potatoes, corn casserole, the works. So, I guess we do have some traditions. Since I missed cooking a big tradition Thanksgiving dinner, I am thrilled to do it for Christmas, even if it is just the two of us.
It was nice to take this little walk down memory lane and think about years past and the things we have done. We have a lot to be thankful for this year, and years past. And who could forget dad and that big blinding light on the 8mm camera to capture some of our holidays on film.