Weekly Genealogy Blogging Prompt #7: Share your holiday traditions. How did you spend the 4th of July? Did the fire truck ever come to your house on Thanksgiving? Share your memories of all holidays, not just the December ones.
Growing up I really don’t remember celebrating any holidays except Thanksgiving and Christmas. I’m not sure if I was aware there were other holidays. I do recall playing with sparklers and Dad setting off some fireworks on the 4th of July. These were always done in our front yard and the total time was probably less than 30 minutes. I don’t remember picnics or anything. November and December are the only holidays I recall celebrating with any consistency.
I don’t have any real memories of Christmas until I was 7. Mother made me a black velvet short set with white lace trim, which I wore for 2 Christmases. I loved that outfit. I believe that was Christmas 1967 and we spent it with my paternal grandparents, and my aunt, uncle, and 2 cousins. My grandparent’s house had an apartment that was a separate building in their backyard and I believe that my aunt, uncle and cousins were living there. It had a living room, kitchen and I presume it had a bedroom and bathroom, though I have no recollection of it. I remember several of the gifts I got that year: a black & white Polaroid camera, a miniature coke machine, and my Great Aunt Jessie gave me and my cousin each a hand-made doll with a blanket. The doll had two heads at opposite ends of her body. On one end her eyes were open and underneath her dress was the other head with her eyes closed. The dress on the ‘awake’ doll was different than the ‘asleep’ doll.
My parents always told me that there was no such thing as Santa Claus. They wanted to always be truthful with me so that I would always trust what they told me. They said that a lot of my friends and cousins believe that there is a Santa and that it was not my responsibility to tell them the truth that was their parents’ job. So, I never told my friends the truth about Santa. I never sat on Santa’s lap because I knew the person was just a stranger and Christmas was about Christ not Santa. I remember being so relieved when my friends finally knew that Santa was pretend. Even our decorations didn’t have Santa type symbols on them. Our wrapping paper as well as our decorations showed symbols of the true meaning of Christmas. Though, I do remember when I was 9 and we moved to Wichita Falls, Texas we acquired a 7″ Santa Claus as a gift and we did display it until it got too gross to display. My mother was raised always opening gifts on Christmas eve while my father was raised opening on Christmas morning. Growing up we always opened our gifts on Christmas Eve. After all there was no Santa so why wait.
We had a real Christmas tree decorated each year until I was about 11, with lights and icicles. In about 1971, my parents said the real trees were too expensive so we went to Sears and bought an artificial tree, which we used for the remainder of the years I lived at home. We never had lights on our house; I was always told it was too expensive. I don’t recall lights on my grandparents’ homes either. I do remember driving around other neighborhoods to see their lights until the mid 70’s when, with the energy crisis, many people seemed to stop decorating with outdoor Christmas lights. I don’t remember having a Christmas stocking until I was in high school and then we moved into a house that had a fire place. Mom made stockings for each of us and then my brother was born and she made one more for him.
My maternal grandmother had a silver Christmas tree that sat on a table and I don’t recall any other decorations except she usually had ribbon candy and other hard candies in a candy dish. My uncle, aunt and cousin lived with her for much of my life growing up and they always opened their gifts when they couldn’t stand the wait anymore, which seemed to be days or weeks before Christmas Day.
My paternal grandmother made lots of candy, cookies and goodies at Christmas. I remember that she had a snow globe that always fascinated me. We never had one and I loved shaking it and watching the snow slowly fall. It always seemed to me that Grandma Brown’s wrapping paper was more fun looking and that there were tons of presents that flowed into the entire living room.
Overall, I do not have a sense of traditions or routines though they must have been present If we were in Oklahoma at Christmas we spent Christmas Eve with my maternal Grandmother and then we all spent Christmas Day together at my paternal grandparents’ home. Christmas Day included a big meal that my paternal Grandmother fixed with the help of all the women. The kids did the dishes. Many more times throughout my younger years, we were not near Oklahoma so it was just me and my parents at our home. Christmas Day was always a relaxed day with a good meal and gifts.
Donna said: Love your holiday post. I’d forgotten about our truth-in-Santa lifestyle. That actually didn’t begin until we moved to Stillwater. One Christmas the pastor spoke about creating an atmosphere of trust and honesty with your children and suggested that if we begin by lying about Santa, we’ve not made a good start. Wayne and I decided he had a point and, though I don’t think we were fanatical about it, we did opt for truth and honesty with you. I suppose you could say the photo with Santa on the TV indicates our lack of fanaticism about the subject (rather than being a visual representation of our hypocrisy). It was for us a matter of choosing to focus on “The reason for the season” and establishing a relationship based on trust and honesty.
I never thought of the lone Santa decoration as any form of discrepancy in the message you were teaching me. I think it simply illustrates that the emphasis in our home was truly on Christ not a commercialization of Christmas. From my perspective as a child, the single item in my memory is due to its novelty in our home.
I always expect (and appreciate) some ‘insight’ from you about my memories simply because a child’s view is often different than the parent’s.
I also never thought of the Santa as a form of hypocrisy until I was reading this account and realized others might think so; I also didn’t assume you thought that either.
I forgot to mention a little clarification on Claudia’s little apartment; it did not have bedrooms (I, too, rationally assume there was a bathroom, though I don’t remember it either). There was a hide-a-bed in the living room and Terri Ann slept in a crib, also in the living room.