Day 1: Happy December, everyone!

Today is the first day of December and so begins the wonderful lead-up to Christmas. Inspired by my friend Selma of Eclectic Home & Life in the UK, I am going to try and post every day until the 24th. As life sometimes serves up a few curve-balls, though, I am not making a solemn promise, except to try this. I have no pictures yet of Christmases when I was still at home with my parents and siblings, so this post is photo-light.

Traditions

I know that there is a lot of commercial push to get rid of our traditions and do new things all the time, but I choose to honour the past and also to add some new twists from time to time. After all, every tradition was new at one time, I expect.

Today I am going to write about some of the traditions that I grew up with and some of the changes that came along.

The tree:

We always had a real tree. My Dad worked in the bush as a logger for most of my early years and he would cut a tree and bring it home shortly before Christmas. Once the tree was securely fastened into the tree stand, the strings of coloured lights were placed. This was after we began renting houses with electricity, so I was likely about ten or eleven years old. The bulbs were the large ones some of you will e familiar with. I don’t recall ever seeing the tiny twinkling faery lights on our home trees. But my last Christmas at home for many years was the year I left for university when I was only nineteen.

My parents bought ornaments in their first years together and those went on the tree every year: fragile birds with spun glass tails that perched upon a spring with a clothespin-like clip to hold it to the branch, lovely balls and teardrop shapes with conical bits that thrust inward, formed of crinkles that caught the light. some plain glass balls of bright colours, some globes, some bells; of these, some had stripes around their middles. There were garlands of tinsel draped around the tree, criss-crossing back and forth. The last thing to go on were the silver icicles, We children, at least the older ones, were allowed to help with the decorating once we were old enough to be careful. When we helped drape the icicles on the tinsel strands, we had very different styles. I always (and still) liked to place them one by one, savouring the moment and making it last as long as possible. I’m like that in nearly everything. Others liked to sort of toss the icicles, sometimes in bunches. and get the job done.

Every year there was at least one or toddlers and nearly always a cat ad a dog, too. AS you likely know, this is perilous for Christmas trees. We had a couple of trees fall over after someone tried to climb them or simply grabbed at the branches for balance.But Dad was resourceful. One year the tree was stood firmly in the middle of the playpen and all the breakable ornaments hung out of reach. After that, dad alway used fishing line to tie the top of the tree to a hook in each wall (the tree stood in a corner of the living room from then on). The tree sometimes was pulled a bit, but it never fell down again.

The Stockings:

As far as I can remember, we always hung stockings on Christmas Eve. Not the fancy stitched or quilted or knitted ones seen today. We used our Dad’s grey woolen work socks clipped to a string across the fireplace with some of Mum’s wooden clothespins. Our names were printed on the pins so that we would get the correct stocking in the morning.

The year I was eleven we had moved to Chase and lived in a house that had been the original hospital. It was three stories tall and had a basement that none of us ever saw. I suppose the stairs were a bit unsafe.

IMG_3799

How it looked in Sept of 2016; not much as I remember it, of course.

That Christmas my two oldest brothers woke up in the middle of the night, went down and collected their filled stockings and then emptied them on the ends of their iron frame beds. I never heard them, but our parents did. I gather that they had to put the contents back into the stockings and were told, no doubt in very stern tones, to wait until our parents were up in the morning before venturing downstairs again.

A few years later, in out last house in Salmon Arm, one child decided to maximize their haul. They asked, and were given permission, to hang two stockings. In the morning, we all were eager to see how the ploy had worked. How exciting to see that both stockings bulged with packages! Disappointment followed swiftly: one held the traditional items; the other had brown-paper wrapped bits of coal, rusty nails and the like. It was full, though!

The next year the same child tried a different tactic. Figuring that two stockings might have been seen by Santa as rather greedy, they asked to hang a different stocking. Again permission was granted (to much private amusement for our parents, I’m sure) and one of Mum’s nylon stockings was borrowed. Again, in the morning, we were filled with anticipation. And, again, the stocking was full to the top! In the bottom were the traditional items and above them was a very long balloon blown up and tied and even sticking out a bit above the top. After that, there were no more attempts to get more than a proper share of the Christmas bounty.

The traditional items in each stocking never varied: a Christmas orange in the toe, still wrapped in that green paper, some nuts in the shell, a good handful of hard candy, striped, solid, twisted, even some licorice. And then there would be a coupleof toys or maybe coloured pencils, sometimes, as we grew older, cologne for me and maybe a tube of Brylcreem or a small bottle of Old Spice aftershave for the two oldest boys. Thai was in the days of the Elvis-like ducktail hairdos, slicked back and held in place by a good layer of Brylcreem.

 

Christmas and family:

I was the oldest of nine children and my parents took in foster babies once the youngest child was four. So that last year I was at home we had ten children under our roof from summer on. I went home for Christmas that year after the mid-term exams were done. It was the last Christmas ever shared by our whole family.

Because I moved to Vancouver Island to attend university and stayed on after I dropped out, and my parents moved from Salmon Arm where I am living now, to Kamloops a year later, then a few years after that to 70 Mile House a bit further north, because I didn’t have much money and mostly because I chose a life much like my parents had lived in their early years (but which they had worked hard to leave behind), I didn’t get home very often. Travel in winter was difficult and my sons’ Dad and I didn’t drive.  I never shared another Christmas with my family until I moved to Thorhild, an hour’s drive north of Edmonton in 1999 to help when my Dad became ill. He passed away that September,but Mum and I put up their small tree (an artificial one by then) and we went to Edmonton for a few days and had Christmas dinner with my youngest sister. her husband and my second-youngest sister. We had Christmas at the house of the youngest sister for most of the years to come, although Mum and I always baked up a storm for the holidays.

I had hoped to cover a few more topics, but my laptop is acting up (Windows wants to do some ‘update’ or other and won’t let me pick a convenient time), so I will leave the rest for tomorrow and maybe a few other days, too. Perhaps shorter posts will be best.

 

Feel free to share any of your own memories, traditions, thoughts, etc., below. And don’t worry about length. Heaven knows I’ve posted far more than my share of over-long comments on some of your blogs!

I hope some of you will post frequently this month, if not every day. The world can use a great outpouring of good and happy thoughts these days. Advent begins on the third this year. Do you have any favourite Advent traditions?

Have a wonderful day today. (it’s technically the first, but it’s only 2 am here; I haven’t gotten to bed yet). Love and Light to each of you.

14 thoughts on “Day 1: Happy December, everyone!

  1. In all my moves, Linne, there is almost no tradition that stays the same year after year. I just adapt to the circumstances. It’s lovely you have so many wonderful memories of your holidays with your family. I can’t write everyday. My list of to do is longer than both arms. But you have given me many ideas here. Love your daily kindness posts.

    • Interesting,Marlene; for me, when I can hold on to a tradition, I feel more connected and somehow that helps me adapt. But, like you, I’ve often not been able to do that and have adjusted to circumstances. When one lives in others’ homes, it’s simpler to adapt to their traditions. My childhood wasn’t always easy and being part of my original family is still more awkward than not, but I do have many good memories and that’s what I tend to focus on.

      I wasn’t sure that I could write every day, either. I may not last until Christmas But it’s been interesting for me, too. I love Selma’s advent posts, but I don’t have photos of the things I did (my photos are all with my RN sister in Chilliwack, BC, for safekeeping, except for the more recent digital pictures and a few copies of old family pictures I photographed from my cousin M’s collection. So I can only write about my memories and the things I love to do. Still, it’s a good thing for me, this year.

      I’m so glad you are finding some ideas here. That makes it worthwhile in itself.

      I hadn’t thought of them as kindness posts, actually. But I have learned a thing or two over the years and I think all the time about what I can do to make the world better. At this time, I am not in a position to do more than practise what I know where I am, with what I have in hand; mostly my attitude and small acts. I do think small things, done with great love, as Mother Teresa said, can make huge differences, although we may never see the outcomes. Anyone who attempts to follow this practise is a sort of Johnny Appleseed, don’t you think? We each do what we can and leave the results to manifest themselves. I have been so fortunate on more than one occasion when i intuitively found a way to meet a challenging situation.

      I hope you manage your to-do list without too much difficulty. And please, don’t worry about responding to every comment of mine. For now, this is my outlet for my thoughts, ideas and all that. On the one hand I’m an extreme introvert (assessed at 95% more than once); on the other, Connecting is my second highest strength, so I do much better when I connect wiith others. I love to share and discuss, hence my many too-long comments, here and elsewhere. I am thinking of you and your sister so often; do take careof yourselves. Much Love and Light to you both. ~ Linne

      • Thanks, Linne. I think most introverts are writers. That’s how we connect without physical entanglement. Every time I have to be out with friends, I come home exhausted. I’d rather write a note. Even talking on the phone can someday’s be too much to handle. For me, this is the best way to communicate. I’ll be catching up with you soon.

      • I agree, Marlene. It’s interesting for me, being both introverted and needing to connect. I love time with people, but it’s harder to manage when it’s business types of interactions or if there is conflict. I suspect that overall physical health has something to do with it, too. I really needed that winter of near-isolation last year. This year I’m feeling recovered and my energy levels seem to be filling up again. I’m so thankful for that.
        Take care of yourself, ,y friend. Love and Light to you both. ~ Linne

  2. Linne, You brought back so many memories of Christmases past with your story and I adore how your parents dealt with greediness! What interesting parents you had.

    For me there was the year my mother couldn’t get the real tree to stand up so tied it to the corners of the room with fishing line, I see now she wasn’t the only one to come up with that solution. 🙂 My grandparents were more traditional with their tree having collected glass ornaments similar to your family’s they put up every year, and yes I do remember those large bulbs, I never liked them. My grandparent’s had one thing they put up every year even in their old age after they had given up putting up a tree. That was a large nativity scene. My grandfather built the stable and my grandmother had collected one piece every year until she had an entire set. Each of the statues was a foot tall. My brother has the set now.

    The one tradition I looked forward to each year was dinner where my great aunt would bring a wilted salad. It was the only time of the year she made it, When my siblings were asking about gifts and giving their wish lists out I was asking if Aunt Ronnie was bringing her salad. 🙂

    • Lois, they were interesting people; I never forgot how they handled that. My Mum was pretty patient, especially with kids, but Dad had a temper at times. Nice to know someone else used the fishing line solution, too, isn’t it? I used it myself some years if our tree were unsteady. I never had kittens who tried to climb the tree, or at least I don’t recall that. I didn’t like the large bulbs either, although I do love the tiny faery lights. I’ve always wanted a creche, but never had one. I’ve thought of making my own, maybe in a while I’ll do that.

      I’ve heard vaguely about wilted salads, but never seen or tried one. Perhaps you could post the recipe one day? I could just picture you asking about the salad instead of a toy or gift. Sounds just like you!

      • Lois, that still sounds like you! Love it! Thanks for the link; I had a quick look and have bookmarked it. I may not get to make it for a while, but it’s going in my recipe list with your name next to it. It sounds delicious. I, too, have questions I wish I had asked; there never seems to be enough time, no matter how long someone is in our lives. (I could hear Jim Croce there, singing ‘Time in a Bottle). Thanks again. I’ll be over to visit soon. Hugs to you. ~ Linne

      • Isn’t it wonderful, Lois? I likely won’t get to make the salad for some time, but it’s on my list. I can tell from the recipe that I will like it! Have a lovely week, Lois. Blessings and Light to you. ~ Linne

      • I will definitely think of you when I eat that salad, Lois! And your name is going next to it in my recipe book I’ve only just begun writing up recipes and collecting others, but I’d like to print them out and leave them to my grandchildren. Warm hugs to you. ~ Linne

      • I’m sure your grandchildren will appreciate your recipes, I inherited my grandmother’s and it was a blessing because after she passed my boys missed her baking for them and I was able to make their favorites when they needed it most.

        I hope you had a lovely Christmas, Linne. Best wishes for the New Year.

      • Thank you, Lois; It was quiet and nice. I hope yours was a good Christmas, too.
        You are so blessed to have those recipes. I wish at least one of my grandmothers’ recipes had survived, but they were gone before I was born. I do have a general idea of a couple of things they made, though, and perhaps I can make those things, even if the recipe is different. borscht and lefsa come to mind particularly. Borscht from Dad’s side, Lefsa from Mum’s.

        I can imagine what it would have meant to your boys; mine never knew either grandmother well, so no memories there, either.

        All the best to ou, as well this coming year. Warm hugs. ~ Linne

Thanks for stopping by my blog! I look forward to reading your comments. ~ Linne

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