Sunday, December 14, 2014

Suzzy's Childhood Christmas Memories

I sat the other day, thinking of my childhood Christmases, and I realized that not all my kids might know how I celebrated Christmas as a child. I may have shared bits and pieces, but never put it all together.

First, we always put up our decorations the day after Thanksgiving. We never Black Friday shopped, though I always wanted to go see Santa land in a helicopter at Christown Mall. We had a main tree in the living room and I remember my dad was very particular how it was decorated. First came the strings of lights. White. And back then, you would plug them in to test, and if they didn't work, you had to check and re-screw in every little bulb. It was always the last bulb you would screw in that would make it light up. We had mostly glass ball ornaments, though I remember there was this tiny pink glass teapot and a tiny red glass trumpet that always went on the tree...up high. The angel that always hangs on our Christmas tree now...and the first ornament I put on...was once on a package from my dad's mom, Grandma Kew (Etta Lucille Taylor). My dad was a big Frank Loyd Wright fan, so we had this very modernish spire on the top of our tree. We kids could hang a few ornaments and then he and Mom would put on this special small silvery garland and then he would hang tinsel, in individual strands, all over.

The best thing to come was the Sears Toy Catalog and we would all fight over looking at it. I remember I would always want one of those beautifully dressed collector dolls, but my mom would say that those were not the kind you play with, but the kind you look at. I really never understood, till I was an adult. 

Now, because Scott and Sharynn and I were not so refined, we had a kids' tree in the family room by the fireplace that we could decorate any way we wanted. We had glass ball ornaments that we once turned into a big fight with...mess cleaning up was NOT fun but the throwing sure was. We would often make a paper chain to hang on it too.

We didn't have many decorations around the house, just a couple of felt boots that grey glasses fit in and our advent calendar. Dad would put garland around the stair railings and our stockings, designed and or made by our Great Grandma, Irma Zelia Pratt Wolf Leiber. Dad would always try to get real pine boughs and then put our large gold nativity on the boughs. We had a smaller nativity that I remember had a pink angel and a blue angel and I would play house with the angels. Dad also put up the big multi-colored Christmas lights on our house.

We always had to have a picture on Santa's lap, and there was a little hut in a nearby strip mall, called West Plaza that we would go to. It was fine...till I was a senior in high school...and I dare say, Santa was shorter...and younger than me!

Dad liked to drive to downtown Phoenix and see the decorations and lights on the buildings. There was this sleigh that went from one building to another, and it still is there today.

Christmas Eve, we would sometimes go to church to hear choirs sing, always dress up for a special dinner, and we would get one small gift to open...we called it a table gift. Our tree was always just full of presents, and one year, my mom tried to fool us by putting numbers on the tag instead of names. We thought there was a code, and spent much time trying to figure it out. Instead, it was just random, and she spent most of that Christmas trying to find the number we would call out on a key she had printed. Always, my dad's sister, Muriel Lucille Kew, or my Aunt Moo, would come from Arcadia, California by plane late Christmas Eve. Sometimes I would get to go with my dad and I remember it being PACKED with people and Christmas Carolers were singing.

Christmas morning, Scott, Sharynn and I could get up and open our stockings before Mom and Dad got up. We then had to wait for Aunt Moo and them to get up. We would just all open presents at once and it was a free for all...but fun. I remember one Christmas walking out and there in the family room were these matching white doll beds with the same dolls, only different colored clothing, one for Sharynn and one for me.

We would spend Christmas playing new games, doing puzzles, and then later in the day we would go to visit Tutu and Grandpa (Louise Amelia Wolf Marsh Hart and J.D. Bill Hart) We would get to take one gift with us to play with. They always had a huge real tree with the big multicolored outdoor Christmas lights on it. I remember we would play a game called Husker Du, which I remember was some sort of matching game with a game board.

Christmas decorations stayed up until New Years' Day, when we packed it all up. I really never was fond of New Years' Day for that reason.

Well, you now have my memories of Christmas as a child. Each family takes their traditions and makes new ones...and that's the best!

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