Sunday, 13 December 2015
Waxing nostalgic on a Sunday morning . . .
I don't know what it is about this time of year, but long about now . . . each year . . . I start to get very nostalgic and I think a lot about Christmases gone past. There is something about this special time of year that makes the soul long for family and comfort and childhood joys from long ago.
We never had Christmas stockings when I was a child, not unless you count the red plastic netted ones. Occasionally we would find one of those beneath the tree and there is a special place in my heart memories for those, but I did used to long for a real stocking that I could hang up empty on Christmas Eve and find filled on Christmas morning.
We had Christmas bowls. They were made of melmac, and each of us had a different colour. Most of the year they were called our cereal bowls, but at Christmas they took on the magical properties of a Christmas stocking. Christmas morning we would wake up to find that they had leapt from the kitchen cupboard onto our places at the dining table and inside each would be a handfull of Christmas Candies . . . that old Christmas satin mix with different coloured boiled sweeties, striped and plain and some mysteriously waffled . . . a few creams in pastel colours, a few nuts and a tangerine . . . and of course a candy cane to suck on all day.
Oftimes as well there would be a piece of ribbon candy and a Barley Candy Toy. You could not bite those things. They were as hard as steel. All you could do is suck on them, which is probably a good thing. I remember us having a baby sitter at the house one time during the Christmas season. My parents had probably gone to a Christmas party and I choked on a round hard candy ball and the baby sitter hanging me upside down and banging on my back to get it out. That was kind of scary, but it didn't stop me from eating candy . . .
My mother had a very Germanic Saint Nicholas head that got hung on the wall every year as a part of our Christmas Decorations. He had a tall pointed hat and a very fierce look with a long white beard. He wasn't at all fat and jolly like the Santas we most associated with Christmas of the Coca Cola variety. I was terrified of that Saint Nicholas head . . . it struck the very fear of God into me. I was actually kind of afraid of Santa Claus anyways. It was a sort of love/hate thing. A part of me loved him because he brought us presents, but another part of me was quite scared of him. One year my father thought he would give us a thrill and put a walkie talkie into our bedroom beneath my brother's crib and have Santa speak to us on Christmas Eve, telling us he wouldn't come if we didn't go to sleep . . . which of course had the exact opposite effect on me. Totally scared the living Dickens out of me. And to this day if a bedroom door is open and there is any light coming in from a hallway at all . . . I can see that pointy headed Germanic Santa Claus hiding in the shadows behind the door . . .
At school there would be Christmas Concerts and plays and the Air Forces Bases we lived on would have a big Community Christmas Play each year, culminating in a Nativity. To this day I can recite "Twas the Night Before Christmas" from start to finish along with a poem by Eugene Field, entitled "Jest Fore Christmas," with all of it's intonations and nuances . . .
Father calls me William,
sister calls me Will,
Mother calls me Willie,
but the fellers call me Bill!
Mighty glad I ain't a girl - ruther be a boy,
Without them sashes, curls, an' things
that's worn by Fauntleroy!
Love to chawnk green apples
an' go swimmin' in the lake -
Hate to take the castor-ile they give for bellyache!
'Most all the time, the whole year round,
there ain't no flies on me,
But jest 'fore Christmas I'm as good as I kin be!
It was a lot longer than this. I am only showing you the first verse. I am sure I was quite precocious when I was reciting it . . . with my hillybilly accent and actions.
Each year we would be thrilled beyond measure watching the Christmas specials on the television . . . Rudolph the Rednosed Reindeer . . . Frosty the Snowman with Jimmy Durante singing the song . . . The Grinch Who Stole Christmas . . . Charlie Brown's Christmas. I still enjoy them to this day, although they don't air them over here. You can find them on YouTube though and they still thrill me. We did manage to get Charlie Brown's Christmas on DVD a couple of years ago and we watch it every year. It will always be special to me . . .
And don't get me started on the films . . . White Christmas, Miracle on 34th Street . . . It's a Wonderful Life . . . and so many, many more. These are the Christmas films of my childhood . . . along with the old black and white Christmas Carol one with Allister Sims as Scrooge . . .
And Christmas just would not have been the same without this guy . . . he charmed and entertained us like no other. It was a simpler, kinder, gentler time . . . no smut or violence, no swearing. Just good clean fun.
Frosted window panes . . . I think it was colder when I was a child . . . the smell of pine and the outdoors which wafted off our Christmas tree . . . those magical lights which glowed in all colours . . . the sound and the warm air blasting from the furnace . . . the smell of roasting turkey and my mother's stuffing . . . the hint of rum in the air from all of that Christmas hospitality.
Egg Nog. Fruit cake, both light and the dark. Date Squares. Gingerbread men. Mince pies.
Primarily of course it was very much a season of the spirit, and that is something which has never changed no matter how old I get I hold it's reverence and sacredness in my heart as a special treasure that warms my spirit no matter the time of year or the decorations or music . . . or gifts beneath the tree. It is a gift which I give myself each time I do a kind deed or lift another in prayer . . . but ever more sacred in December when we take note and pause to celebrate this most unspeakable gift, that of the birth of the Saviour. My special feelings about the sacredness of this help to make my season even brighter and merrier, and it has ever been so.
My mother often tells the story of how she arrived as a very young woman and Bride, with myself as a very young baby in Germany on Christmas Eve. She was tired and exhausted after a very long journey from Canada, and away from family at Christmas for the very first time. My father had rented them rooms above a Gasthaus in a small German Village and she did not speak the language and all of her luggage had gone missing during the journey. All she wanted to do was to sit and cry. The owners wife must have sensed her grief and very kindly brought them up a Christmas Eve supper and tore sheets into diapers for me and actually took me over so that my mother could rest. This was a kindness my mother never forgot and something which, to this day warms her heart and mine as she tells the story.
And really . . . that is what Christmas is all about or should be about . . . about the spirit of love and of giving . . . and that is the part of Christmas which we can carry with us all the year through.
Don't laugh, lol . . . these are my Christmas Snowflake Whoopie Pies. They should look like this . . . . but they don't.
Presentation has never been my strong suit. Snowflake Whoopie Pies in the English Kitchen today.
May your Sunday be filled with blessings and love from beginning to end. Don't forget!
═══════════ ღೋƸ̵̡Ӝ̵̨̄Ʒღೋ ═══════════ ⊰✿░G░O░D⊰✿⊰L░O░V░E░S⊰✿⊰░Y░O░U░⊰✿
═══════════ ღೋƸ̵̡Ӝ̵̨̄Ʒღೋ ═══════════
And I do too!