Day 9: Christmas Eve traditions

Today, well, earlier today, when today still meant Friday, my cousin M took me to Vernon to have my photo taken and to do some errands. On the way there and back I mostly knitted on one side of my sister’s scarf, working up from the darker pocket. I chose to use moss stitch for a nicer finish to both front and back. This is K2, P2 for 2 rows, then P2, K2 for 2 rows. It went fairly smoothly; until I noticed a section where I had .that I had just done six rows without changing the beginning. Oh, well, it has now become a ‘design element’ in the best tradition of knitters everywhere. There is no way I am frogging anymore unless I really make a mess of it!

And while I was knitting, I was thinking about a few things, including some of my own family’s traditions, especially for Christmas Eve.

In 1975 I learned of an old house that was being torn down soon and that people were welcome to salvage whatever they could. I was lucky enough to gIt was oveet a complete built-in dining room buffet, complete with drawers, glass doors, and more. Friends helped me take it apart. But the big score was an old Chesterfield, likely from the 1920s or 1930s. It was over  six feet between the arms and on Christmas Eve it was perfect for all of us to sit on; sometimes up to four adults and four children.

I have a pretty old-fashioned approach to some things: food and holidays are two of them. So on Christmas Eve I tried to make something special for dinner; after that, any last-minute preparations for the big day were taken care of; then we sat on the big couch with hot chocolate and some of the Christmas baking and admired our tree, full of hand-made ornaments. No tv and only rarely did we have batteries for the little transistor radio. When we did, Christmas music was lovely in the background. But the best part was when it began to get late. We would all hang our woolen work sock stockings near the fireplace (in Victoria) or the old Franklin stove (in the old log house) and then we would read the original Christmas story from the Bible, followed by The Night Before Christmas poem. Last of all, the boys put out a plate of Christmas baking and a glass of milk for Santa. One year they left carrots for the reindeer, too. In the morning, there would be only crumbs on the plate and a milky glass next to it.

Finally the boys were tucked up in their beds and our fun began! Into each stocking went a Christmas orange, a handful of nuts in the shell (therefore stretching out the fun of eating them), another handful of hard candy and licorice (one of my favourites) Some years there was chocolate, too. But the part I liked best was taking the small gifts out from their hiding place and wrapping each individually. I am a savouring sort of person myself, so I like to extend enjoyment for others, too. In the basement floor of two of our department stores was a section much like the dime stores of old and the dollar stores of today. I would have bought several small items there, things like Silly Putty and crayons, balsa wood airplane kits, perhaps a small top or other toy. I usually bought a magazine like Owl for each of them, too, rolling the book and then wrapping it. Small rubber balls were always a favourite, too. One year there were wooden recorders; another year it was friction cars; do you remember them? You would roll them back and forth to wind them up, then let them sail across the linoleum, often making a siren noise as they went. Very popular with small boys!

Often last-minute wrapping followed, especially of the gifts that were from Santa. I remember the first Christmas with my husband; he bought a ride-on horse with springs suspending it from the frame for the youngest, who was three at the time.  That was hard to hide! We kept it in the studio and one day the wee boy got in and we heard him bouncing away on the horse. He was soon removed and the door kept locked until Christmas Eve.

The last of Christmas Eve we spent quietly on that old Chesterfield, talking and making plans for the future. My husband would get out his guitar and sing, I grew up with home-made music and it was so nice to have it in our own home. This is when I liked to have the first of the eggnog with a little rum or brandy to spike it and the shortbread I made with oat flour. So good!

Simple traditions, really, but I loved them. I hope one day to be able to repeat some with my grandchildren.

Did you have a tradition that you loved on Christmas Eve? Was it from the family you grew up in or did you make your own?

Well, it’s late and I’m ready for bed, so no pictures today, either, sorry. But there must be music:

My Favourite Time of Year by The Florin Street Band This is a group new to me. I like their voices very much.

I wish you some time for reflection and remembrance today. Love to you all. ~ Linne

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

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