Cherished Christmas Memories
The Christmases of my childhood were filled with excitement waking up Christmas morning to find our living room magically transformed into a beautiful Christmas scene while we children were soundly sleeping in our beds. My parents would wait until after we went to bed to decorate the biggest tree my father could find, then lovingly, they wrapped all our gifts during the early morning hours getting no sleep before we excitedly woke to see if Santa had visited our home. We were never disappointed when we all flew into the living room to see Santa had been hard at work throughout the night. I can still feel my excitement stepping into the living room holding my breath in wonder seeing the beautiful Christmas tree decorated by my mother. She crafted her tree so each light, ornament, and how can I forget that tacky silver tinsel, placed strand by strand, was in perfect harmony. I adored seeing the tree for the first time each year!
I learned from my parents that Christmas was a special time to share with family and friends as a steady stream of guests visited our home. One of my favorite Christmas memories happened on cold snowy Christmas morning when I was nine years old. We had just finished opening our presents when there was a knock at our door. Opening the door my Father found a group of family friends who braved the snow-covered roads – barely making it up the hill on our street – for a Christmas morning visit. My parents graciously welcomed their guests even at six o’clock in the morning with food and hot coffee. After our guests were fed, warmed, enjoying my parents’ famous hospitality, I played Christmas songs on the piano with everyone robustly singing along! That Christmas morning so long ago lives forever in my heart.
As I became older I actively participated in helping my Mother bake copious amounts of cookies for family and friends. My important responsibility was making pizzelles with my grandmother’s cast iron pizzelle mold. My Mother made the dough from my grandmother’s special recipe. My important role was “cooking” the pizzelles. I put just the right amount of dough on the hot pizzelle mold then placed the mold on the stove burner making sure that I turned the mold over at just the right second to insure that each pizzelle was perfectly thin and crisp to my Mother’s exact specifications.
All my cherished Christmas memories return to me each December as I begin preparing for my family’s holiday festivities. Christmas starts for me the day after Thanksgiving, not with shopping on Black Friday, but with decorating. When our children were young their Christmas gifts to me were festive Lenox Christmas china for holiday entertaining. Every year my decorating starts with displaying my Christmas china in the dining room china cabinet. Seeing my Christmas China in the cabinet signals to our family the Christmas holiday season has begun. Now I decorate throughout our home with abandonment while memories of Christmases past live again flowing back to me as I lovingly unwrap so many special decorations including the beautiful nativity figurines that my mother made for me and my husband for our first Christmas. Once each room is thoroughly dressed in Christmas finery I can turn my full attention to baking Christmas cookies. I still make pizzelles just as I did so many years ago with my grandmother’s monogrammed mold, part of her trousseaux, using my family’s special recipe, perfectly thin and crisp as my mother taught me. My baking takes, according to my family, mythical proportions with the rumor circulating throughout our family that I actually bake thousands of cookies! Never having counted my cookies I only know that tin after tin magically appears lining the shelves of my pantry where pounds of flour, sugar, chocolate, nuts, and preserves formerly resided. Each year my cookie assortment contains old favorites as well as new recipes that I can’t resist adding to my cookie collection. Trays of cookies greet guests as they visit with the remaindering cookies packed in holiday tins for family and friends near and far.
Gathering around our large table, enjoying Christmas dinner, we toast with gratitude our good fortunes, especially that we are all together to celebrate another special Christmas. After our guests leave I sit by the fire savoring the day as memories of Christmas’s past play in my mind like a cherished old movie.