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Aspinator
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17 Nov 2021, 2:59 pm

Somehow I inherited the responsibility for getting our Christmas tree (I have 5 other siblings) It was always a cedar tree. We lived in a rural area so we always cut our own. We would put it up and decorate it the week before Christmas and take it down on New Years. It always made the house smell so nice.



Fnord
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17 Nov 2021, 3:08 pm

(My grandmother made this every year for Christmas Eve.)

Peanut Butter Fudge

1 cup smooth peanut butter
2 cups granulated white sugar
1/2 cup milk
1 tsp vanilla extract

Coat the interior of an 8 x 8-inch baking pan with vegetable oil.

In a medium saucepan, bring sugar and milk to a low boil.
Allow to boil for about 2-1/2 minutes, stirring regularly, and then remove from heat.
Add the peanut butter and vanilla and stir until smooth.
Pour the mixture into the pan and allow to cool until set.
Slice into 1-inch squares.

Makes about 16 pieces

(She always made it better than any of the rest of us ever could.)



IsabellaLinton
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17 Nov 2021, 3:26 pm

I was just now looking at Christmas photos from my childhood, and my parents' childhood. Good timing!

My fondest memory is:

Christmas Eve we always went to our family friends' house after church and the kids ran around playing, listening to Elvis Christmas albums, enjoying coloured lights, and waiting for Santa. On the drive home at midnight there was a radio control tower with a red light at the top, and my dad used to tell me it was Rudolph. I remember that feeling of absolute magic, and believing it with all my heart.


OK, second fondest memory: :P

My mother's family started a tradition that the children weren't allowed to get out of bed on Christmas morning until Bing Crosby's White Christmas vinyl album started playing in the living room. My parents continued that tradition with me and my brother. We'd be awake and so excited to go to the Christmas tree and find our gifts from Santa, but we had to wait to hear the needle drop on this song, with all its little skips and scratches:

(Silent Night)

Actually, we got to where we'd just heard the old credenza crack open -- because their record player was built into it --- and that was the most exciting moment of all.

My favourite year was when I got this giant Holly Hobbie cardboard playhouse.

Image

No that's not me. :heart:

We always have real trees too -- usually 8 foot pines as fat as they are tall.

We always get an orange in the toe of our Christmas stocking.

We also make bacon-wrapped water chestnuts on Christmas Eve.

I make my grandmother's baking recipes (the best is her shortbread), and I started a tradition where I walk to church for the early evening children's mass, to hear the choir. I won't drive and it's about 45 minutes each way. By the time I get home, I watch A Christmas Carol (1951 version / Alistair Sim) at midnight --- every year.


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Fnord
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17 Nov 2021, 3:45 pm

December 24, 1967: The last best Christmas ever.

Every house all along the street was decorated with twinkly lights and pine boughs.  It had snowed most of the day, and the skies had cleared just before sunset.  The snowplows had come through and the streets had been salted.

Grandma and grandad were there.  So were all of our aunts and uncles.  Mom and dad were still together; dad was sober and mom was laughing.  A dozen kids and about the same number of adults.  Every flat surface in the kitchen and dining room was covered with all the traditional foods of our family (peanut butter fudge, too!).

There was music.  There was singing.  There was laughter and plenty of smiles and hugs for everyone.

Presents?

Yeah, we all got presents.  I don't remember most of them.  What I do remember is the feelings I had from being with family.

Because it was during the following year that the troubles started.



IsabellaLinton
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17 Nov 2021, 4:06 pm

That sounds so nice Fnord.

I love the sensory elements of Christmas -- the smell of the tree, the smell of goose or turkey and gravy, the 1970s frosted C9 lights (red, blue, green, gold), the feel of running around on shag carpets in my cotton dress leotards :P The sound of all those vintage carols (Bing, Nat, Ella, Dean Martin, etc as well as the traditional carols like the King's College choir at Cambridge). The vintage 60s-70s wrapping paper which was always red and green, not blue or cartoons like now. My parents' cologne / after shave on Christmas Eve ... I can still remember it. They only wore those scents for Christmas Eve when we were all dressed up to go out.

Another memory I cherish: My dad worked shifts either all day or all night. If he had a day shift on Christmas it meant that we had to get up super early at like 4 a.m., so we could enjoy Christmas morning with him and have time to relax and play with our toys before he went to work. It was so peaceful and beautiful because it was still dark outside, and the tree lights would be that much more vibrant. If he worked night shift, it meant that he would just be getting home at 8 a.m., and we'd have to wait for him to get changed and relax a bit before putting on the Bing Crosby song. Those years were torture because we'd hear him come home but we had to stay in our rooms to wait for him.

My dad passed away on Christmas Eve several years ago.

So I'm gonna go cry now.

This one's for him:



Blue Christmas.


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Fnord
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17 Nov 2021, 4:10 pm

This one is for 10-year-old Fnordie and all of his relatives who have gone on before him.



:cry: My face is wet ... all of a sudden ...



IsabellaLinton
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17 Nov 2021, 4:22 pm

Yeah no ... I'm not even pushing Start on that song. :(

Or this one:



Judy Garland - Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas (from Meet Me in St Louis).

"If the fates allow ... " always slays me. ^


I'm good with Bing's "Silver Bells" and "It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas" -- they might be my nostalgic favourites from early childhood.


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Fnord
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17 Nov 2021, 4:36 pm

Yeah ... Christmas ... I used to hate Ebeneezer Scrooge; but in my senior years, I have come to understand him a lot better -- not that his pre-conversion behavior is excusable; but that I understand how he got that way.



IsabellaLinton
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17 Nov 2021, 4:42 pm

Fnord wrote:
Yeah ... Christmas ... I used to hate Ebeneezer Scrooge; but in my senior years, I have come to understand him a lot better -- not that his pre-conversion behavior is excusable; but that I understand how he got that way.


I love it because of the book, and it reminds me of childhood watching the movie by our fire when my parents drank Bailey's and everyone was peaceful. It's a classic because it's such a tradition, but my actual Christmas favourites are It's a Wonderful Life, the Rankin/Bass specials, and Charlie Brown.

Charlie Brown's soundtrack reminds me of the night my dad passed away (yes lots of things do).

Every movie and song has a tradition of where and when I play it.


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kokopelli
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17 Nov 2021, 4:47 pm

The music. Always the music.

When I was in high school, the church youth would go caroling two or three times a year and quite a few adults would join in. Each time, we'd go to the home of members of the congregation and sing three or four songs for them. Two or three of the houses each time would always have cakes, cookies, or pies, and hot chocolate for us.

Hmmm. The food. Always the food.

Nah. The music.

Usually we would travel by cars and pickups, but a few times someone would bring a grain truck with a tarp over the top and several hay bales broken apart and strewn across the bed of the truck and with the tail section removed so we could get in and out.

That's died out now. We haven't done that in years. Of course, the size of the congregation is much smaller now so there are fewer houses to go to and fewer people to sing. These days, we would almost have to pull up to a house, the inhabitants run in, open the door, and act surprised to see us while the rest of us sang to them.



Fnord
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17 Nov 2021, 4:50 pm

Yeah ... the people, the food, and the music are what make the holidays during the "-ber" months so sepcial.



IsabellaLinton
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17 Nov 2021, 5:01 pm

That's amazing kokopelli!

I went door-to-door carolling in a group when I was about eight years old. It used to be quite common for carollers to stroll around singing and collecting donations for the church / charity. I remember singing Good King Wenceslas and having a hard time remembering all the words.

When my daughter was young I took her to the Christmas Eve carolling outside the church, with everyone holding a candle. That was pretty powerful too.


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Aspinator
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17 Nov 2021, 5:50 pm

This may sound "hokey"; but we dressed up in our Sunday clothes to eat Christmas dinner. It was viewed as a very special occasion.



IsabellaLinton
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17 Nov 2021, 5:59 pm

Aspinator wrote:
This may sound "hokey"; but we dressed up in our Sunday clothes to eat Christmas dinner. It was viewed as a very special occasion.


Same here! We still do! It's actually the only occasion of the year when my family (mother, brother) gets together for a big meal. We still do the exact same traditions from when I grew up.


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DuckHairback
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18 Nov 2021, 8:00 am

Pre-10 years old Christmas was a massive family event for us. We'd all descend on my grandfather's house - my parents and siblings, my father's 2 brothers and their families. It was pretty much the only time of year we'd see them and it was always the happiest time for me. It was the only time I got a sense of myself as being part of this big 'family' - aunts, uncles, cousins...something beyond just the core mum/dad/sibs. In the evening, one of the 'brothers' either my dad or one of my uncles would disappear and shortly after there'd be a knock at the door. Father Christmas would be let in and he would proceed, with the help of the younger kids, to hand out the presents from under the tree.

I just loved it. I felt so at home there and that 'big family' thing is something I yearn for to this day. The sense that you're surrounded by people who know you and love you and have time for you.

Unfortunately when I was 10 my father fell out with the rest of his family and that was it. No more big family Christmases, I didn't even see many of those people again until much later, a couple I still haven't seen. Christmas became a smaller, less magical time.

I have tried to get my own parents and siblings to do a 'big family Christmas' for the sake of our kids - I'd love to give that to my kid - but they're not interested, it obviously didn't mean as much to them as it did to me.

So yeah, that's what it was to me - just being part of an extended family, a bigger support network. I wish there was more of that in the modern world.



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18 Nov 2021, 8:05 am

I also wanted to write about the religious aspect of Christmas. I'm not religious and wasn't raised religious but some of the schools I went to were religious schools and often did nativity plays and carol concerts at Christmas. I remember being very aware at quite an early age of how incredibly good that Christmas story is and the music, the Christmas carols are such powerful pieces of music and lyricism. It almost makes me wish I was religious - how amazing it would be to have those songs and music speak to a genuine faith in me.