Tuesday, December 15, 2009

SPT—Christmas Past-Present-Future Meme

This week’s self-portrait is painted with words.

  • Which relative were you most excited to go and see or have come and visit your home during the holidays?

Grandma Chadwick came a few weeks early and visited and played games of Scrabble with us. I liked her conversational manner. However, Grandma Hoops’ arrival meant Christmas Eve afternoon had come. I appreciated the personal interest she took in us kids. But when my cousin Casey and his family came it meant the party could begin, so I was probably most excited for his family to come. Sometimes they brought cases of bottled pop which was a big deal to me. Casey, my brother, Tim, and I used to get rug burns on our stomachs from sliding down the stairs while we waited for our Christmas Eve supper.

  • What is your earliest Christmas memory?

My sister, Lila, drew my name and gave me a Barbie doll (a short haired one that wore tennis shoes). Someone told me that night that I had better hang on tight to it as Santa Claus might take it and give it to another little girl. I was mortified he would steal from one to give to another and slept with her and the plastic case she came in. I was always a bit suspicious of Santa after that.

  • Do you still swap gifts with childhood friends?

Nope. Sadly I’ve lost communication with all of them.

  • What is a traditional act of service you do or remember doing at Christmas?
I don't know if this memory counts as tradition or not, but Grandma Hoops always brought fudge when she came. By the time Christmas Eve had come, we were pretty tired of homemade candy and ready for the store-bought stuff in our stockings. I noticed Grandma watched the plate to see if anybody ate her fudge. It killed me to see her so disappointed, so when she wasn’t looking I took several pieces and put them on a plate and hid them under my bed until after she went home.
  • What is the most romantic Christmas gift you have received?
The year before Calvin and I got married he drew me a picture. I was too embarrassed to open it in front of the family (I feared he wasn’t very good). I should not have worried. It was wonderful. I mean really good. He hasn’t drawn anything since and I cherish that picture.
  • What is the worst gift you’ve ever given?
Oh gee. I do my best to forget these. I have given more than one. One was to Cali. She hated to cook when she was a little girl and I was determined to help her like it. Santa (as her main gift) gave her a box of cake mixes, spatula, an apron, etc. . . . not cute little girl, easy-bake ones, but practical, store brand, mother ones. Hmmmm. She never used them, so I finally absorbed them into the kitchen. There is a reason she doesn’t trust my surprises.
  • Does Santa wrap presents or just set them under the tree?
He wraps them. His elf sends one, too, for the whole family. Oh ho. I can hardly wait for the kids to see what Calvin has configured up for the elf’s gift this year. It is so Calvin.
  • What is your favorite homemade Christmas candy?
Caramel or peanut brittle. Or toffee. Or peanut clusters. Or cashew clusters.
  • What is your favorite holiday dish?
This is a tough one. Not only do I like lots of foods, but our holiday meal changes every year. I’ll go with some kind of dip or cheese ball since we seldom have them any other time of year.
  • When and how did you learn the truth about Santa?
Randy M. told me on the boys’ stairs at the school when I was in first grade. I never much cared for him after that. The two of us were just sitting there watching the kids play on the playground when he said, “You know Santa Claus isn’t real don’t you.” Even though I questioned Santa’s ethics, I still would have liked to have believed another year or two.
  • Can you ice skate?
I can. Not well, but I can. We had a pond about a half mile from our home and sometimes the neighbor boys and I would walk down to it and ice skate. Though I can’t go backwards, or gracefully glide with one foot straight out behind me, I can go forward.
  • What is your own true sentimental Christmas story?
Cali hates Christmas stories. She runs and hides if we pull out the book. She says they are all designed to make us feel guilty and she is not going to feel guilty at Christmas. (I should confess it’s my own fault. I read a traumatizing one when the kids were little, one that made us all cry even Calvin, and she’s never felt kindly towards a Christmas story since [besides the real one]). But this story is true and sweet. It’s about my sister, Rachel, and her son Cache. If I replaced all of our other questionable-authenticity stories with ones like this Cali would no longer have to leave the room when we read them.

Dear Jane,
One great thing about Christmas was a gift that Cache (12) got me. We drew names a couple of weeks ago and Cache finagled it until he got mine. We took turns opening them and it finally got to me. I opened the bag and there was a scout shirt on top. Cache hadn't had time to wrap. In fact, we had to wait on him while he found something to put my present in. I thought the scout shirt was just to cover what was inside. I pulled it out and found another scout shirt underneath, and another one under that, and two sashes below that. It dawned on me about the third shirt—Cache had taken everybody’s scout shirts and all of the badges he could find, and hand sewn each and every one of them in the place that they should go. I didn't even have the troop number sewn on them. (At one time I stapled one on, but it fell off.) I started to tear up. It was just the sweetest, most thoughtful thing. I kept telling the kids I would sew the badges on. I knew it was important to them, I just couldn't seem to find any extra time, but I told them I would do it the whole week after Christmas. Justin (14) said that every night Bert and I went on a date; Cache would sneak the scout shirts and badges out while we were gone and work and work on them. This has gone on for over three months. Cache would get so frustrated he would throw them up and say, "I give up". Justin said, "everybody would always tell him how good he was doing, and not to give up. Sometimes Jesse (10) would help him rip them out to start again." Cache finally got all but one sash done and he wrapped them up for me for Christmas. I tell you, I should write my OWN TEAR JERKER CHRISTMAS BOOK. What a kid. What a great kid. What great kids to cheer him on. And not one whisper of it to me. Even when he couldn't find the one and only needle in the house for two weeks! Amazing. And very, very humbling.

  • A picture from a past Christmas.

Well, this isn't Christmas, but it is Christmastime and the night of the school play. Our mothers always painted our lips with red lipstick before the play. I always felt a bit ridiculous in it as my lips were big enough with out painting them barn red. I already mentioned in a previous post that the Christmas play was a big night in our community, but in this picture please note the candy house and tree that Aunt Jean built for our family. It was my favorite Christmas decoration and it lived for years, thanks to hard-as-a-rock frosting that wouldn't let a piece of candy loose for anything.

  • What do you look most forward to in future Christmases?

More of the same, and yet new memories as our family expands. Last year Ray brought little gadgets, gizmos, magic tricks, etc. for everyone’s stockings. He put an Abraham Lincoln sucker in mine. Santa has always had a far-too-practical bent in our house (remember the cake mixes) so it was fun having Ray's enthusiasm, ideas, personality, and traditions added. I look forward to many more Christmases.

Feel free to grab this meme for your own blog.

Which relative were you most excited to go and see or have come and visit your home during the holidays?
What is your earliest Christmas memory?
Do you still swap gifts with childhood friends?
What is an act of service you do or remember doing at Christmas?
What is the most romantic Christmas gift you have received?
What is the worst gift you’ve ever given?
Does Santa wrap presents or just set them under the tree?
What is your favorite homemade Christmas candy?
What is your favorite holiday dish?
When and how did you learn the truth about Santa?
Can you ice skate?
What is your own true sentimental Christmas story?

A picture from a past Christmas.
What do you look most forward to in future Christmases?


Rachel said...

Oh Jane! The story of you hiding Grandma's fudge is just killing me. That's hilarious that that's your 'traditional act of service'. I'll have to remember that one.

Leslie said...

I love all the Christmas memories you shared. And the wonderful story you shared about your sister and her son.

Ande Payne said...

Oh Mom I LOVED this blog. I think it is my new favorite. You are just so cute and sweet. That is the greatest picture and the greatest stories.

Heather @ Multiple Hats said...

Great post, Jane! Love the fudge story - what a sweetheart you are/were!

Cali said...

Oh Mama. That was SO fun to read. I loved that picture of you. I love every picture of you because I see SOOOOO much of your personality. I look at them and I know just what you were thinking. You are a great woman and mother. I love you deeply.


Lynn said...

Jane-- I loved the fudge. I wish I'd known about your stash. We had great costumes for our plays, didn't we? Our mother could sew. She couldn't make candy houses but she could sew. Cache's Christmas story is my favorite, too. And I hate the tear jerking ones. I'm with Cali on that-- it's like they're trying too hard and want to substitute emotionalism for spirituality. Anyway, I enjoyed your memories.

michelle said...

This was just delightful, Jane!

I love picturing you being suspicious of Santa, and then wishing you could believe in him a little longer.

That story about Cache is truly wonderful!

And that picture of you and the candy house is my new favorite.