Christmas parties was not on my agenda growing up. We always had dinner parties in our home, and I do not remember going anywhere in particular to celebrate the holidays. My mother and father however went to many through the years.
I found this photo that was taken in the 1950’s in New York of my Mother, Grandmother and her friends.
Agnes Cully Peters (Center on couch)
Betty Mae Peters (on R-end of couch-poka dot dress
I don’t think I ever stopped believing in Santa Clause…Call me crazy, but once I figured out that Santa was just a character, I also knew that it was the spirit of giving, that personified “Santa.”
Growing up, my brother and I would set out cookies for Santa to eat, and even when we knew Santa was our parents, we still left him some on a plate with some milk.
I would hope that I would hear the reindeer up on the housetop, and maybe catch Santa delivering packages, but it just never happened.
My mother would always put a tag on our presents and write “From Santa.” She would wait until we were fast asleep (which really never happened), and then would place all our presents, at least eleven each under the tree. My favorite part of Christmas was to be chosen to be “Santa.” Whoever was appointed Santa, would hand out the presents and everyone would watch and see what was given.
The photo’s below are of my parents Walter and Betty Porter with Santa Clause. These are one of my favorite photos of them. They were both in their 70’s and were probably at a fundraiser Christmas party.
Walter J. Porter w/Santa
|My Mom w/Santa
Betty Mae Porter
I don’t want to sound like the old Scrooge when it comes to outdoor Christmas decorations, but for some reason they never looked right on our house when I was growing up. I have fond memories of everyone else’s outdoor Christmas decorations but not ours. When the fad was to use smaller lights on one’s home, my parents still used the large multi-colored lights on the house. I just was never pleased with the way the large lights looked.
I also was tired of the old Santa Clause my father seemed to hang literally from its neck from the olive tree in our front yard. I guess he had no idea where to put it but in that darn tree. Why not set it on the roof near the chimney? Maybe my dad thought he would have to buy more decorations….Who knows. That old Santa is no longer with us, as I donated him years ago to the Salvation Army.
Sending Christmas and Holiday Cards was a tradition for the Porter Family. A month or so before the holidays, my mother would go to the local stationary store and order Holiday Cards for friends, family and colleagues with the family name inscribed inside. She would order at least five-hundred every year, as my parents were socially and civically active. My mother preferred Holiday cards over Christmas cards as it would allow her more time to send them off before the New Year. Mother would always type a Christmas Letter and include it with the card and personalize some of the letters when she had extra to say. As you can see, my mother held the family tradition down.
My favorite memory about Christmas and Holiday Cards, was receiving them. My parents received at least half back of what they sent. My brother and I would take turns taping the cards to construction paper that my mother decorated the walls with (she was a school teacher). When the wall became too full, we would put them on the pool table and set them up.
I enjoy sending cards out now, but because most people send cards through email, my participation in sending them through the mail has slowed down tremendously. Most people tend not to reciprocate as years past, so it seems that the memory of receiving and sending cards will be just that.
Thinking about Christmas Tree Ornaments from years-past, stirred different emotions in my heart, because the ornaments that I can remember changed during the different stages of my life, and they held different meanings. Many of the ornaments hanging on the tree as little children (the one’s we made) for our parents and the ones we picked out year after year added to the collection. We would have the large multi-colored ball ornaments, candy-canes, and varying character ornaments like Betty Boop, Winnie the Pooh, but mainly traditional ones.
There was a time as a teenager, when many of our collected ornaments were destroyed by field mice that came up from the canyon and chewed their ways through the cardboard box (this truly was the wrong way to store our treasured ornaments.) Some of them were saved but we started over with many new ones. Many we still made. As we grew up, the ornaments were handed down to the child that cared about them the most (me).
As I began my family, I built upon the ornaments I grew up with, and added my children’s. The one’s I loved the most, were the ones they made. I loved the ones that were ceramic and had their pictures glued in the middle. We would make popcorn garland, and sometimes add ribbons in the tree. Every year we would would have each child, pick out and buy a special ornament to add to the tree. (I remember one year we had McDonald’s Dalmatian Puppy Ornaments filling our tree).
When my parents entered into their Winter years and passed away, I inherited boxes of things that took me years to go through, so I decided to free myself and sell them at the Swap Meet. I will always regret that I took the box of ornaments and without looking at what was in the box sold it for $20.00. Without realizing, I sold all the ornaments that my brother and I made and the ones my children made. I grieved for a long time, and I still do.
This may be the reason why I haven’t been too thrilled about having a Christmas Tree, but this year I purchased one. My daughter and I went to Big Lots (on a tight budget) and purchased boxes of ornaments to start all over again. We decided that we would jump start our tradition over again and purchase a special ornament this year that expresses who we are and what we like. I look forward to see what my daughter chooses, as I begin to figure what I want.
So basically, it is never to start over and it is never too late to begin or restart a tradition; and if you are fortunate enough to pass down the most special ornaments to the next generation, that will be a most treasured gift.
Memories of ingredients being stirred in large bowls to make Fruitcake, dance in the recesses of my mind. Baking fruitcake was an all day affair during the Christmas Holiday. My first memory was at five years old watching my mother in the kitchen as she measured, poured, stirred, and baked the mystery cake that I knew nothing of. What intrigued me the most about the ingredients were the colored cherries and fruits and nuts that she would mix into the rich, dark batter. Mom would pour rum in some bowls that were especially set aside for the adults.
My favorite part after baking the individual cakes, was to wrap them and deliver them to our neighbors. Through the years, I would hear people say how much fruitcake was not their favorite because it was hard and they did not prefer the taste. My memory of my mother’s cake was moist and tasty and most favorable in my mind.
Every Christmas my mother would prepare 2 large pots of Seafood Gumbo and a large pot of rice. My mother was a natural hostess and entertainer and she would don me the “little” hostess. I would take out the best china and silver; wash and dry preparing them for 10 to 20 guests that were invited for such a wonderful meal.
I had the task of setting the table in its proper order. I then would set out the h’orderves on trays and small pretzels and nuts in their appropriate bowls to be set out on the living room coffee and end tables. Candles were lit, and center pieces in place. Jazz music would be swaying in the background with an occasional Christmas tune.
Guests would arrive…drinks and cocktails would be offered. And being the “little” hostess would have the pleasure of serving and making sure, each guest had their full. Appetizer trays stayed replenished as lot’s of grown-up talk and laughter filled the room. My father with his smoking jacket on, (even though he didn’t smoke) would ensure each guest had something to talk about, as his humor lit up the room.
What wonderful memories of Christmas twirl in my mind knowing we shared good food for the soul.
I wish I had the opportunity to know what Christmas was like for my Ancestors. When I decided to participate in the Advent Calendar Christmas prompts, I began looking through photo’s to see if I could find any with Christmas Trees. This is the first photo I found, and was pleasantly surprised that it was a photo of my grandmother Agnes and her sister Zara, who you could vaguely see sitting on the couch to the right. What a wonderful find.
|Agnes Cully Peters (Standing up) & Zara Cully Brown
Los Angeles, California
The Christmas Holidays has always been one of my favorite times of the year. When I was growing up in the 1970’s through 1980’s, my mother would alternate every other year with a fake tree or a fresh cut Christmas Tree. I especially enjoyed the fresh cut one the best. The smell of pine throughout the house always gave the home an outdoorsy feel.
When we were very young my mother and father would wrap the tree with lights, and garland, then they would give my brother and I the honor to help decorate the tree. As we got older, it became a competitive game as to see who could put the most ornaments on, and in the right places. My brother was much taller, so he tended to always get the top.
When we had the whole tree decorated, my father would lift me up to put the star or angel on the top of the tree. Then my brother would turn on the lights as the living room light went off. What a beautiful sight! The lights would blink off and on with various colors and the decorations would shimmer in the dark. What beauty to behold!
Oh Christmas Tree, Oh Christmas Tree, How lovely are your branches?
I would then pick up the “Three Wise Men” musical statue and turn the knob on the back as Silent Night played then I would join in with the tune and sing the song.