Thursday, December 22, 2011

Christmas Memories

It is so hard to believe that in two days it  is Christmas Eve! Yikes ,where did the time go this year? Since Christmas has always been near and dear to my heart,probably because of my childhood memories, I thought I'd share a few of them with you all. 
  As many of you can probably relate to living in a rural area things are not always readily available when you need them.Well 40 + years ago living in this small town things really were hard to come by for most folks.There were only small mom and pop type of grocery stores and no big department stores either. Our big department store was a small Ben Franklin that went out of business many years ago.My dad and mom were farmers,mainly tobacco and a smallish dairy farm.We, like a lot of the area grew up in a time when you grew  most of what you ate and I can remember momma making a lot of our clothes ,and thinking back I consider those the good old days.Christmas was always big at my house ,because through out the year there was not a lot of toys or gifts bought ,times were tough and it just did not happen .It was not that my family was poor but you just used your money for things that were more important .As a child I had all the necessities and  had plenty of toys don't get me wrong .We were a  happy family and always took joy out of the smaller things in life ... going on a picnic down by the creek ,playing ball out in the yard or on hot  summer evenings just sitting out in the yard on a quilt looking up at the stars listening to momma and daddy talking about their day. Oops ! I started to ramble to much, now getting back to those Christmas memories.... At Christmas we always had the same tree was daddy and momma's first tree.Wow, is it ever special,the lights screw directly  into the end of the  branches and momma has lots of the antique German glass ornaments.They were paper thin when I was a tiny thing so you can imagine how fragile that they are today.That tree is still the family tree ,it gives me such a warm fuzzy feeling when it goes up for the holidays. It was an old tree when they bought it at a second hand store.

As those of you that grew tobacco know ,December is usually the month that you sell your crop if you are blessed to have had just the right conditions to get it processed for market.Well daddy  and momma usually managed to do just that and it meant  that they could give their kids a big Christmas  and that is what happened most years.They always managed to make our wishes come true,but it wasn't about the gifts it was about the winding down of all their hard work for the year and joy of sharing . Momma always cooked yummy things  and cleaned  the house till it was gleaming . When it came time for the tree to be trimmed, daddy would get the limbs straightened out and  the bubble lights burning, then mom and all of us kids would gently hang the ornaments. Just seeing a bubble light today brings a smile to my face.

As I said earlier there were not any big grocery stores ,so soon after Thanksgiving there would be vendors sitting up tables usually on main street selling holiday fruit ,candies and  such.My dad hardly ever went to town, he was content to stay at home and do his farming duties but at Christmas time  you just knew he would be going to town .He and momma would go shopping and oh  the treats they would bring home!One thing I can say about them ,they always treated us kids equally.They made sure that we each had a favorite  fruit or candy by the time that they came home. My parents always bought a car load of fruit and candy, not just for us but so that when people dropped by house  that they could send  fruit and candy home with them ,they always  shared what they had with others. I learned early on that Christmas was about giving not receiving.Our home was open to all at Christmas time.

Back when I was a child, Kentucky would get snow and lots of it, that doesn't seem to happen much these days.Some of my fondest  Christmas memories are of us all bundling up late in the evening and going for car rides to look at Christmas lights .There was just something magical about being in the back seat of a car,  with your brother and sisters on a cold winter's night watching for Christmas lights,squealing there are some..Daddy would dress our house and outside trees  up with all kinds of lights and momma took care of the inside.It was such a  special  feeling then and even now as I wander down memory lane.

There is a memory of one particular Christmas morning that has always stood out in my mind.It is of me (probably 5 years old) sitting in the doorway of the kitchen coloring .I had opened up a new coloring book and one of those big boxes of crayons and momma was cooking breakfast.I can still feel the warm feeling of love I had sitting there watching momma cook for all of us .I was happy as a lark ,with just my crayons and book.See folks it is the little things that matter.Momma's smile that Christmas morning still warms my heart today.

As a child, a favorite Christmas treat was to have an orange fixed momma's special way.She would make a hole in the top of an orange with a knife and insert a stick of candy ,you know the old time sugar cane sticks, and we would use it like a straw to suck the orange juice from the orange. A triple treat in one ,a sweet stick of candy ,slurped orange juice and then the yummy orange. Looking back I wonder if she did that so that we wouldn't be so messy while peeling the orange.LOL! Can't say I would blame her with four kids in the house.

Christmas day was a day spent with the family at home.We would be up early, have breakfast ,open our gifts and always have a wrapping paper fight till we just about giggled out. Cleaning up the mess was never as much fun as making it.LOL! By the time we had that done momma would have our Christmas dinner ready, we all loved chicken and dumplings so you knew that along with the turkey and fixen's  there was going to a big  old pot of dumplings.I  can still see daddy standing at the stove stirring the pot for momma.

To me this is what Christmas is about... the loving  memories that families make together and the true reason... Jesus.It is not about driving yourself crazy to buy that one perfect gift or worrying yourself silly that someone is not going to like what you have bought.Don't misunderstand,Christmas is about being generous,caring and wanting to bring others happiness too but you don't have to spend money to do it.How about a homemade Christmas gift ,giving a hug, visiting someone that is house bound , and yes even a simple smile can make someone's life a lot brighter.I am not a scrooge and don't have a problem with gift giving ,in fact I love to do it but Christmas should not be such a stress on people.It has become far to commercialized in my eyes and thus a lot of people have lost that special Christmas joy.So I have said all  that to say this ...let's enjoy the day for what it is really about ..our family , friends and Jesus!My family is missing one of it's key elements with Daddy being gone but I know that with my memories he is still enjoying the day with us.

To all my blogging friends ,I wish you the Merriest of Christmas's ! If you are traveling to be with family I pray that you have a safe and happy journey!Thanks for wandering down my lane of Christmas memories with me. God Bless You All! Hugs,Jen


Susan At Glen Oaks Primitives said...

Oh, golly Jen. What a beautiful Christmas story. And a beautiful testament to the way your parents
raised their children. No wonder
you have such a special feeling
about the holidays. Your story
reminded me of the story/movie
"I Remember Mama" with Irene Dunne
and Barbara Bel Geddes from the late 1930's. It is the most beautiful story of a girl looking back on her life growing up with
her Norwegian parents and brother and sisters in turn of the century
San Francisco. How they made life so wonderful for their children.
I would love to be able to put this link to my blog. I think so many people need to read this as we approach Christmas. It isn't that the baking and the decorating and the shopping is not part of the holiday, it's just that so many people have not mentioned what is really what the Christmas season is about. The birth of Jesus, peace, good will toward others.
Thank you for this special post. I am filled in my heart with the Spirit of Christmas.
Merry Christmas to you and yours,

Hillcresthome Prims said...

Jen, we talk all the time on the phone and I love you dearly and you bringing us down memory lane with you on your post was just like reading a book. You have told me alot of your childhood and we have known each other from the very first forum that we joined together. I think waht 6 years ago, I am just guessing!
Everything you talked about I could picture in my mind, like your Daddy stirring Momma's dumplings in the big pot. Daddy and Momma driving around with all you kiddos in the back of the car looking at the lights. Those are gifts, the are called the BEST FAMILY CHILDHOOD MEMORIES!!! That to me is PRICELESS! FAMILY!
You are right people all get stressed out about buying that perfect gift or can they afford it, I believe whatever gift you get small, or homemade it is the thought and love that person put into that gift for you!

I feel Christmas is not the way it use to be, it is about a birth Jesus! Alot of young people today think of gifts and who can out do each other and that to me makes me sad.
It is about our Lord and Savior..

Happy Birthday Jesus!

Merry Christmas my dear and loving friend and thank you for writing about your childhood memories!
It made me think of some dear memories that I hold dear to my heart.
Love you dear friend,
and tell the family Merry Christmas, I will be calling you anyway,
Ken, Tricia and boys!XOXOXOX

Angela said...

Jen, I so agree with Tricia and Susan. Such a wonderful post, one that I so enjoyed. It would be so nice if children today could experience the way so many of us were brought up back in the day. My childhood was so much like that of your own. My parents worked in a cotton mill and my grandmother lived with us and took care of me. We did not go into town on the spur of the moment and buy a gadget. Christmas was such a special time. It began when we started play practice at church. Oh the memories. And I too find that the greatest of these memories are the little things. Thanks for taking me down memory lane with you and jogging my own memory back to Christmas past when I was a wee one. Yes, I cherish those memories. Hoping you and yours have a blessed and Merry Christmas Day.

Vicki said...

I just love this post and everything about it! It takes me back to simpler times and as you said when everyone wasn't racing around madly and it wasn't even a thought. Your child hood sounds wonderful...I was raised in Ky also but in a subdivision in louisville. I too now love the smaller towns and a quiet life. Thank You for sharing your memories with us...SO very nice! Merry Christmas!

Shirlee said...

Jen ... What a beautiful post & what beautiful Christmas memories! Things just aren't the same now-a-days ... too much of a focus on "things" & "self." Truly sad. I used to love hearing the stories of my mother & dad's Christmases when they were young. Thank you for a very enjoyable visit ... & Merry Christmas! Blessings, Shirlee

Cat Nap Inn Primitives said...

oh Jen, I love reading your christmas memories..I could totally picture all that you said..and it reminds me of the waltons..thank you for sharing..and I hope you have a wonderful christmas and all the best for the new year;)

tamera-country at heart said...

Jen, I love reading your Christmas story. I can relate to it quite well. I grew up along the Ohio river and Daddy was from Kentucky. We would drive to see his family in the coal miner hills when there were lots of snow on the ground back then. It was all about the little things, like visiting and being with family. I miss those days too.
Thanks for sharing.
Country at heart

Bittersweetfolkart said...

Merry Christmas Jen !

TheCrankyCrow said...

A beautiful and poignant post, Jen - so glad I didn't miss this one. I think you've captured "the spirit" perfectly - whether you thought you would a week ago, or not, it has certainly found you and blessed you. My childhood Christmases were not as rich - there were no outdoor decorations, and usually only one gift per child under the tree - but, even so, the things that I remember distinctly are what make them so rich to me. The dreaded fruitcake my mother would labor over (which now I would kill for); the visits over a two-week period to extended family (great aunts/uncles, etc.); the Christmas back filled with salted peanuts, hard candy and a piece of fruit after the church program.....truly things that would be little appreciated today. You've blessed us all with this time for reflection....Smiles & Christmas Hugs ~ Robin

Dog Trot Farm said...

Jen, what a lovely post and tribute to your parents. It seems to be the simply things in life that offer the most meaning. I would not trade my childhood memories for anything in the world. I feel very fortunate to have grown up in a small Island community. I too have a memory of opening a big box of crayola crayons and a coloring book on Christmas, the scent of crayons always brings me back to being a child. A Doll, an outfit, maybe a sled and always an orange in the toe of my stocking, I was a very happy and lucky little girl. Merry Christmas to you and yours, Julie.

Barb said...

Hi Jen,
What wonderful memories to share!
It brings back a few to me too.
Have a wonderful Holiday!

Angie Berry said...

Such sweet, sweet memories! I agree, that's what Christmas really should be about, not all the hustle and bustle. I do my best to show that to my kids but society sometimes tries to get in the way and commercialize everything for us. It's up to us to teach our children the true meaning of Christmas. Precious memories indeed, thanks for sharing them!

Jen said...

What a wonderful post, brought back alot of memories of my childhood. I really enjoyed it, thanks for the trip down memory lane.

A Primitive Homestead said...

I so enjoyed reading every word of your Christmas memories. Your family shared such joy & love. The true meaning of what God intended famlies to be. Wishing you & yours a Happy 2012 as you continue to make beautiful family memories. Blessings!