When I think back to Christmases of my childhood, there is none that stands out more than the others - Our Christmas celebrations were family oriented and traditional, yet very special.
Christmas celebrations were centered around church, home, community and school. (yes, school!)
We got our Christmas tree right in Dalton at Rorvig's Store. It was trimmed with
big colored lights, glass balls and tinsel. I remember a lighted angel on the top of
the tree which I thought was beautiful. I also remember a "tin foil" star on the
top on at least one occasion.
I remember going upstairs on Christmas Eve and looking out the east window,
hoping to see the star that the wisemen followed. And when I saw a star that
I deemed bright enough to be the star, Christmas had arrived.
When I was very young, I remember going to my Grandma's for Christmas Eve.
The house was bustling with activity as the women prepared the meal. There was not room for everyone to sit at the table, so one group would eat their meal at the table, and when they were done, another group would eat. I am not sure how many meal rotations there were!
I remember going home from grandma's and it was late (or seemed late to me).
Because I thought it must be close to midnight, whenever I hear the song,
"It Came Upon a Midnight Clear" I am reminded of my grandma.
When we got home, we would open our gifts.
Before opening our gifts, we would say our "pieces" (recitations) from the Sunday School Christmas program. Sometimes we would do a little program - we did not forget the meaning of Christmas.
I remember after all the presents had been opened, Dad would go down the basement
and bring a big box of red Delicious apples up to share.
I remember our Sunday School Christmas programs. There were no microphones, and
we were told to speak LOUDLY when we said our recitations.
We sang "Jeg er sa Glad" nearly every year. The teachers reminded us how much
the older people would like to hear us sing one verse in Norwegian.
I remember getting a little cup with the table prayer from my teacher (still have that cup).
I remember feeling happy and relieved that the program was over and we all did so well,
according to our teachers.
I remember celebrating Christmas in school - a public school.
We sang Christmas songs, exchanged Christmas gifts
and even had a Christmas program.
Here we not only sang "Jingle Bells" but we often closed the program
with "Silent Night"
I remember Santa Claus Day in Dalton, but I don't remember every believing
there was a Santa Claus. We children enjoyed waiting for him to
arrive and give us little brown paper bags with peanuts, hard candy,
and one chocolate cream-filled mound. There was a free movie shown in
the town hall for the children.
How great to have these Christmas memories! Those days were indeed simpler,
and I think that it is not only because we were young.
As I started writing this - and it got way longer than I thought it would - I started
remembering many more things about Christmases past.
I hope we are making good memories for our family today, too.
Uncle Carl, Aunt Palma, Esther, Grandma
Dodie, Me, Jim