Monday, December 27, 2021

Christmas Day Memories

 



Christmas Day has come and gone in a flurry of family, food, and celebration. There were also snow flurries - a wish come true for much of our family. We did things a bit differently this year, with no big dinner. Rather, we all brought appetizers and set them out for lunch, and then later, more for an evening meal. I'm still undecided about the result, but most of the family thought it was great. We do get together for meals often throughout the year, so perhaps this will become a Christmas tradition. But I miss the turkey and stuffing! 

I have been thinking about my childhood Christmases. My parents moved away from their parents and many siblings in order to find work. But we always returned to the Fraser Valley for Christmas (and Easter, and weddings, and other weekends). 

My maternal grandparents lived in a rambling old farmhouse. The home once belonged to my great-grandmother. When the highway (Trans-Canada #1) was expanded in the 1950s, the house was destined for removal, so my grandparents moved the house to a property on Old Yale Road. That's where my memories of it began. 

Long tables stretched from the dining room to the living room when all of us gathered for dinner. The number varied from year to year as more of my aunties married and had children. We cousins sat together at one end of the table, probably presided over by an auntie who was charged to keep us in order. After dinner was cleared away, we gathered in the living room. Sheets of carols were passed around, someone sat at the piano, and we sang for quite some time. My mother and aunts sang in harmony; my mother has a beautiful alto voice. After the carol sing, gifts were exchanged and drifts of paper filled the room. At some point during the evening, my uncle Frank set up very bright lights and took silent films of the gathering. When I saw a compilation of these films a number of years ago, I was so impressed by the elegant dresses my mother and aunts wore - well-fitting sheath dresses that they had sewn themselves. No leisure wear there. 

My grandfather passed out paper bags filled with unshelled nuts, hard ribbon candy, and an orange. Mandarin oranges were a Christmas treat, and they came in wooden boxes from Japan, each orange wrapped in thin green tissue paper. What a treat they were. 

As the day wound down, little ones were put to bed throughout the house, conversations continued in groups here and there, and we children played with our cousins. Later, those who lived locally gathered up children and belongings, leaving those of us who were left feeling somewhat flat. Then up the narrow stairs we went to find our own beds. My grandparents slept downstairs. Upstairs four bedrooms opened off of a wide square hallway. My uncle, the only boy of 10, had his own room, but it seemed like the aunties were constantly moving in and out of each others' rooms. We never knew which bedroom we'd be sleeping in, and it was fun to discover where we had been assigned. 

When I was 13, we moved further north and I don't think we ever returned to my grandparents' home for Christmas. Several aunts and their families also moved north and our traditions changed as we gathered with those who were near. My grandparents sold the old farmhouse around the same time, purchasing a modern home that always seemed soulless to me. The old house has since been torn down to make way for new development, but before it was demolished, one of my aunts returned and salvaged the original beautiful glass doorknobs.

As I reminisce over Christmases past, I wonder what memories my grandchildren will have of these lovely days that we've spent together. I can only hope they will remember the love that surrounded them. 


Here's a view from earlier today - a mug (new for Christmas) of mulled wine and a few cookies enjoyed before the fire after a walk in the crisp and still snowy outdoors. 


33 comments:

Marie Smith said...

I wonder if our grandchildren will have fond memories of Christmas too, as we did. How fortunate you are to have such wonderful memories. Isn’t it amazing how memories can be tied to a particular house and place?

Anneliese said...

I thoroughly enjoyed reading of your childhood memories, gathering with family. I did not grow up close to relatives,
so I hope that I can make the kind of memories you talk about for our grandchildren. Our own kids have memories of family together and we still gathered until 2019. We will see what the next year holds. For now I'm very grateful we can gather with our children.

Patricia said...

How lovely to have your family gather together for Christmas, Lorrie. They are a very attractive group! I loved reading your accounts of Christmas long ago; strangely, I have been thinking of my early Christmasses too, lately. Is it the effect of a pandemic? We also went to our grandparents' house, and looked forward to it. Singing around the piano was part of our routine, just as it was yours. It is lovely to read of your mother and aunts in their elegant dresses - times were different then. I am sure your grandchildren will have great memories of Christmas at your place too.

Barb said...

Hi Lorrie~

It sounds like a wonderful Christmas! I think it's fun to mix things up, appetizers are always a good choice. This year we did soup in bread bowls, I'm not sure the littles liked it, but it was something different and fun. We also had appetizers, which filled us all up! In your family photo it looked like everyone was very happy, so the appetizers must have been delicious, and a wonderful idea!

Thank you for sharing your family Christmas memories, they brought me back to my own. Life seemed so simple then, but I can't imagine how difficult it must have been to manage everything they did and with such grace. I loved the image of your aunts singing harmony to Christmas carols, I'll bet it was beautiful!

Have a wonderful week-before-new years!



riitta k said...

I am so glad that you could celebrate Christmas surrounded by your family. During my first marriage my mother & father-in-law invited us all to their home for Christmas. There were alltogether seven children plus the adults. Later Christmas celebrating has divided in groups, practically due to the lack of space. Nowadays we have more gettogethers in the summer, because we all fit better inside & outdoors.

Christmas is the time of memories. These two Covid Christmases are certainly different. I wish everything will turn out better till the next Christmas.

Betty from Comox said...

Lorrie,
thanks for sharing these memories.Yes things were different in those days, but
getting together as a family had so many rewards.

Elizabethd said...

Childhood memories are so very special. How different it all is now with so many families unable to mingle. It sounds like your day was super.

sulis said...
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Dewena said...

Your Christmas Day memories, past and present, are lovely, Lorrie, and so well written. I could picture the house full of aunts and uncles and cousins and wonderful grandparents. My parents were from large families too and my memories of going home to the farm are similar to yours except we weren't a very musical family with only a large player piano for musical entertainment. But my father and uncles and two aunts were all great story tellers. Your reminiscing brought back so many memories to me, including your elegant mother and aunts. How I miss them! Thankfully so many of my cousins keep up on FB now even though a few older ones are no longer with us. I love your idea for appetizers on Christmas Day! I'm sure that many of them were quite gourmet if the other cooks in your family are anything like you.

A blessed and Happy New Year to you and your family, Lorrie!

Penny from Enjoying The Simple Things said...

What wonderful memories you have from your childhood! Christmas was always at my house growing up and one set of grandparents always came to spend a couple of days. The other set of grands lived in another state.

Deanna Rabe said...

I loved reading about your memories Lorrie. I grew up without cousins nearby, but we did have my grandma and grandpa. My grandparents would always come over on Christmas Eve and stay the night, even though they lived nearby. That was the start of Christmas for me!

Salty Pumpkin Studio said...

Your family memory connections flow as a beautiful story of love and appreciation.
Happy New Year!

Sandi@ Rose Chintz Cottage said...

Lorrie, your childhood Christmases sound very similar to mine. My first home was in my grandparents' home and they had a large farm; the largest in the neighbourhood. I can recall so many lovely memories of my life there in NB when all the aunts, uncles, and cousins would gather around. My aunts too would sew their own clothes and they always looked so special dressed up. How I missed those times when we moved to PEI! Although we visited often when my grandmother was still alive, I missed out on the every day goings-on on the farm. After my grandmother passed, almost all of the family moved to other provinces. Memories are indeed treasures of the heart! How lovely that your family still gets together for Christmas and other occasions! It is not easy for my family to do that because my youngest lives in Michigan. But they got home this year which was a most treasured time for us as a family. It has been a delight to read your post! Happy New Year, my friend!

Beside a babbling brook... said...

Lost it already!

Beside a babbling brook... said...

Lovely all...

Especially your memories.....

Thank you.

And so glad you got snow.

Margie said...

So glad that you had a wonderful Christmas with your family. It's funny that you had a white Christmas, while we had a green Christmas out there.

Thank you for sharing your lovely childhood Christmas memories.

Vee said...

Ahhh...the memories! The new ones being made will be cherished. We have tried all sorts of Christmas meals, etc. It's a bit of a challenge no matter what we decide.

Judy said...

Love your memories of Christmas past! They brought back many of my own...including the singing of carols and the camaraderie of cousins. The cousins were our first 'best friends'. It looks like you made wonderful new memories over there this year!

Ratana said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
GretchenJoanna said...

I think about this a lot, and it seems that the houses and places where the memories formed were special because of the people, whose love and personality infused them. It's a good bet your house will be part of similar memories. Your descriptions of the aunties and cousins is evocative of a rich family culture!

Granny Marigold said...

Sweet memories of Christmas past and present. Happy New Year to you and your family.

kitty@ Kitty's Kozy Kitchen said...

What a treat to read of your childhood memories of your Christmases, Lorrie. I could picture everything that you described.
We did appetizers and desserts on the afternoon of Christmas Eve and I must say, that it’s easier for me. It looks like you had a wonderful one and the relaxing photo at the end, makes me say “ahhhhh”! Happy New Year to you and your family.

Jenn Jilks said...

Lovely memories!

ellen b. said...

It's good to remember and document those memories. I, too, wonder what our grands will remember of Christmases and other times at Baba and Gramps'.

Lowcarb team member said...

So pleased that you had a wonderful Christmastime with your family.
Eddie and I were fortunate to be able to spend time with ours too. So much love and laughter, special memories to cherish.

Talking of memories, thank you for sharing your childhood Christmas memories.

Happy New Year Wishes.

All the best Jan

Angie said...

Lorrie - such precious memories of your childhood Christmases. We always received an orange in our stockings, and ribbon candy was an annual favorite on a green glass dish (whatever happened to it?) Dad would buy unshelled walnuts, and we loved using a metal squirrel nutcracker to break them open. I still remember a silver engraved pick that Dad had to pick out the stubborn pieces!

It is my hope that our children will maintain some of our family traditions when they have kids of their own, and create new traditions! Happy New Year!

Ruth said...

Christmas memories are so precious. You've reminded me of the green tissue-wrapped mandarins (we called them tangerines) and the real treat they were (along with nuts in their shells.) Remember the skins were loose with more "strings" inside than those we find in the stores today, and with lots of seeds. Just the smell of them brings all those Christmases back to mind. An Amish friend calls them "Christmas fruit."

kathy b said...

Your fun memories made me think of the movies our parents took. Crazy fun, but in with no sound!

kathy b said...

I had to change may site . It is : https://knittinggenes.blogspot.com

Ratana said...
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Catherine said...

You are lucky to have such beautiful Christmas memories

Sandra at Maison De Jardin said...

Dear Lorrie, Christmas memories are our treasures and yours are so dear. I enjoyed reading about them so much. Lorrie, I am certain your children and grandchildren will forever treasure the memories you have worked and enjoyed making for them. They will know how very fortunate they are to have them in a world where so many can't have the same to enjoy.

Wishing all of you a Happy and Healthy New Year!

Marilyn Miller said...

I loved reading your memories of Christmas past. So sweet! Yes, I remember getting a candy cane and orange from Santa when I was young. It was thrilling. We had more appetizers this year too and I missed having a real meal. After Christmas I made a real meal with baked salmon and that helped my desire for a meal of celebration.

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