Monday, September 28, 2009

The Dog Ate Our Christmas Tree - Memories of Me Monday

Christmas 1960
Me, my older brother, Mike, and my little brother, Stephen

Today's memory jogger as posted in last Monday's blog: "What tradition at Christmas is your very favorite?"

That's easy - Santa! I LOVE the guy. I always have, and I always will, love everything about him; letters to Santa, sitting on Santa's lap, getting photographed with Santa, his reindeer and his red suit, his sleigh full of presents and his fluffy white beard, his shiny black boots and his hearty "Ho, Ho, Ho!" I even love that he lives at the frigid North Pole, even though I don't like the cold! There's just not a more likable guy and I won't tolerate a word to be said against him.

The best Christmas parties always include Santa. In the early 60's my parents had a group of friends that they were very close to. The Luceros, the Harris's, and the Sessions. They got together with them frequently, so all of us kids saw each other a lot as well. Shelly Sessions was my best friend. (In the years to come the Luceros would move away, Giselle Harris would often babysit me and my siblings, and I would develop a terrible crush on Kevin!)

The adults had dinner parties, played cards, and took us to the beach, the mountains, and, once, camping in Mexico. We probably often got together for Christmas, but the one year I remember well was when we had a party and Santa showed up as a surprise guest!
Christmas approx. 1963
at the Lucero's home in Hermosa Beach, CA.
I'm on the very far right, half-hidden behind Giselle Harris;
others pictured are David Lucero, Kevin Harris, and Shelly Sessions

Another tradition I loved, growing up, was Christmas Eve at Grandma Ware's house:
Christmas 1967
Steve, Lisa, and Grandma Ware
Hawthorne, CA.

Gram always made a huge dinner, had a decorated tree and gifts for everyone, and planned games and activities for us kids. All my cousins came, too, the Bisks and the Lutes, so as our families grew we became quite the crowd.

I will admit that one thing I did NOT like about these Christmas Eve parties was my Gram's Christmas pudding. Oh, it was horrible! The only way I can describe it is as a super-heavy, very dense, fruitcake-y thing with a thick & sugary burnt-maple-flavored sauce poured over it. Apparently, it was a tradition that Gram had grown up with in Canada and that she was determined to continue. On the way to her house each Christmas Eve we kids (and my Dad, too) would be threatened to within an inch of our lives to NOT let on that we didn't like the pudding. We were to thank Gram and eat every bite!

I don't know if Gram ever figured out that none of us liked her Christmas pudding!

Although I love Christmas traditions, I have learned that the most memorable Christmases are the ones where there's something different, new, or unusual. Once, just once, our family had a flocked Christmas tree:
Christmas 1965 - Hopkins, MN
Scary - my brother, Mike, got a BB gun!

It was so pretty; all white with just blue glass balls for decoration. Very different from the usual green tree with construction paper chains, lights, and a variety of ornaments. I can even remember watching as the men at the Christmas tree lot sprayed the white flocking onto the tree. I never knew, until very recently, why we never had another one like it. Turns out my mom hadn't liked it, she thought it was too "cold."

Christmas 1965 or 1966 - Hopkins, MN
Me, our new puppy Elkie, and my brother, Steve

Only once did we ever receive a pet for a Christmas gift. It was a Norwegian Elkhound that we named Elkie. We were so excited! Elkie was trouble, though; we couldn't keep her away from the Christmas tree. She chewed on it every chance she got, as well as our toys and shoes. I can imagine the hassle of housebreaking her in the middle of winter with several feet of snow on the ground. In our neighborhood there were no fences so she ran free most of the time when she was outside. She was not very obedient and would run off whenever she wanted. One day she got run over by the school bus and broke her leg. She recovered and our family brought her with us when we moved back to California in 1968. Our new house in the suburbs of Redondo Beach had a very small yard and she was unhappy there, so we eventually gave her away to a family with more room.

Another Christmas that's memorable to me is the one when I was about 8 or 9. That year I discovered the closet where my mom had hidden our wrapped gifts. I excitedly peeked in every single package! But then on Christmas morning I felt sad because there were no surprises.

I think the best & most memorable Christmases are those with both long-standing traditions and something new or different.

FOR NEXT WEEK: "Describe the buildings, grounds, etc., of the junior high you attended. What was it like walking to school?"


Elizabeth Peterson said...

I loved seeing the picture with Grandma in it. I don't remember the christmas pudding, thank goodness, but wasn't it at christmas that we did the dollar gift exchange thing? Or maybe I am thinking of a different holiday. Was it easter that Grandma did the auction with those fun little gifts?

Julie said...

Hi Deb! What a fun post! But seriously...did EVERYONE have that same green/brown sofa in 1967??? LOL. I remember ours, and my Aunt and Uncle had it too...probably the neighbors also! LOLOL. You know what I miss that went along with it, was the atomic clocks!!! I wish I had a nice big cordless one now! They are neat!
Take care...Julie

Deborah W said...

Julie, how about the sunburst clocks??? Those were cool, too!

Anonymous said...

Debbie, It was so fun to see pictures of you kids on the computer. Loved your story, but don't remember the dog eating the tree! However, my mind is most likely slipping. It is nice to remember these events from your view point as well. Love, Mom