Friday Fun – What is one of your favorite childhood holiday memories?

Friday Fun is a group post from the writers of the NHWN blog. Each week, we’ll pose and answer a different, get-to-know-us question. We hope you’ll join in by providing your answer in the comments.

QUESTION: What is a favorite holiday memory?

wendy-shotWendy Thomas: I know that I’m going to sound like I’m pulling the age card here, but when I was growing up, we didn’t have so much holiday “noise.”  We had less distraction which made us pay attention to what we had – like the rubber Santa with his wooden sleigh decoration that signaled the beginning of the season.

Everyone waited for the night that the holiday specials were on and we all watched them (and then talked about them endlessly at school to discover those who were still afraid of Rudolph’s abominable snowman.)

We had large colored bulbs on our trees that got so hot you could melt the tinsel. Eventually those lights went to smaller blinking colored ones over the years. I thought it was sacrilege the year my sister set up an all-white light Christmas tree in her house.

Christmas Eve, we were allowed to open one gift and then were sent to bed to try and stay up all long as we could hoping to hear Santa’s sleigh. One year, I swore to all my brothers and sisters that I had.

Cookies were always part of the holidays and hot chocolate with marshmallows and a candy cane to stir it all was a very special holiday treat.

And as I got older, my favorite Christmas special was the Homecoming Walton Christmas one. I’m still and will always be a sap for a Christmas story with a gooey, happy ending.

hennrikus-web2Julie Hennrikus: Wendy, we have similar memories/experiences. But I am the sister who got the white light tree. I made up for it with the black tinsel tree with pink lights last year. Or maybe not.

My favorite memory revolved around the once a year Rudolph viewing. I had seen it maybe once before, or it may have even been the first time. Anyway, I got a bloody nose. And so I had to lie back (it was pretty bad), and couldn’t watch the TV. So my father took a mirror off the wall, and held it over me, tilted toward the TV so I could watch the show in the mirror. For so many reasons, one of my favorite memories ever.

Lisa J. JacksonLisa J. Jackson: I had ‘autograph books’ growing up from trips to Disney World. I was the shyest kid on the planet, but when I was able to get a Disney character to sign my little book I must have had a smile that lit up the world. And one Christmas, I had an idea…

My fondest Christmas memory was leaving an autograph book out for Santa. In the morning, I had proof, in ink, that Santa existed. In no way did that signature look like something my mother or father or brother could have come up with — it was truly Santa and he took the time, not only to eat the cookies and drink the milk, but to write me a note and leave his signature for me. I still have that little book somewhere; a treasured moment and possession for sure.

headshot_jw_thumbnailJamie Wallace: I first rode a pony when I was only three-and-a-half years old. Though the depth of my passion waxed and waned over the years, my love of horses never left me entirely. Just this year, a few months after starting my daughter riding, I returned to the equestrian sport of my youth and am now taking lessons again (… from the same woman who taught me when I was a child!).

I think I was probably eleven or twelve when I first began riding at Ascot Stables. Though it was an expense somewhat beyond my family’s modest means, my parents made sure that I was able to continue with my lessons, even when money was really tight. Each year, the barn ran a “holiday lease” program for the week of Christmas vacation. Kids who participated got to come to the barn and ride as often as they liked for the whole week. It was the next best thing to having your own pony and I desperately wanted to lease a fuzzy little pony – Lyrico or Clipper or Tally. But, I understood – even at that  age – what a big expense it would be, so hardly dared to hope.

On that Christmas morning, after all the other presents had been opened, my parents gave me a small box about the size of a deck of cards. Inside was a brass plaque printed with the words “Ascot Riding Stables Christmas Break Riding Pass” printed on it. (I still have the plaque.) I could hardly believe it. I was going to have my very own pony for a whole week!

Now that I am a mom, I finally understand what it feels like to want to give your child her heart’s desire and how much you’ll go through to be able to see that smile on her face. I actually get a little choked up even now when I think of how difficult it must have been for my parents to make my dream a reality. It was a very special Christmas, indeed – one I will never forget.

dll2013Deborah Lee Luskin: I don’t know if this qualifies as my favorite holiday memory, but it’s certainly the most lasting one: After putting out carrots (for the reindeer), and pretzels, milk and cookies for Santa, we all went off to bed, full of excitement, so I doubt I was actually asleep when my two older brothers told me to get out of bed and follow them to the top of the stairs, because they wanted me to be disabused about Santa Claus once and for all. And sure enough, there was Dad, sitting in his armchair, eating Santa’s snacks.

10 thoughts on “Friday Fun – What is one of your favorite childhood holiday memories?

  1. My father was a fireman, so each year he took a certain precaution without t tree. He would soak it in a solution for a week to make sure it would not catch fire. While the tree was soaking in solution he’d get down the holiday boxes that were sitting on rails in the fafters inside the garade marked “Christmas” from abvoe the garagesw .

    We’d go through thenm from each year before to look at what us girls made in school, and the cards and decoratrions from all the years before. We’d also see the letters from santa thought would usually be written on a paper plate that was set out with cookies on it for santa. In later years I recognized it was my fathers handwriting on those paper plates.

    It was always a fun time. Mom would find a space to put the tree and my father would move the furniture, my mother would clean the picture window so that everyone could see our beautifully decorated tree. Dad put either gold or red foil on the door and hung a wreath. He’d then hook up a light in the yard so that the light would shine on the door and show the wreath off. I remember my father running the wire under the ground to install the light, he was an electrician so he knew how to do these things.

    After the tree was set up and decorated my mother asked us girls what we wanted for Christmas, we would look through catalogues and circle things and tear them out. It was a fun time. She’d have a catalogue for each of us girls so we would look at them while she was baking a holiday treat.

    We had to make our holiday rounds to family to take gifts, if we were not going to go there for Christmas. So we’d go to Connersville, In to both sets of grandparents, my grandma and pa Longs house was first because they lived in town. They had a very little place. I remember their Shiny aluminum Christmas tree with the color wheel that reflected the colors from it off the tree. I liked that.

    We didn’t stay long, our next trip was to the farm, my mother’s parents. We’d go there and it was fun from beginning to end. They had a wonderful old pre-civil war home that they remodeled. There was always a lot to do. However, we were just there to drop off gifts and bring some home with us.

    My grandparents tree was an artificial tree, but was decorated with the decorations they after they got married and had added to each year since. Most of their decorations were the brand Shiny Brite. Some were bubble lights, others were musical, and other’s flashed. Then she had decorations from each grand child that they had made. So that was a very full and busy looking tree. Presents were always piled high with lots of different kinds of wrapping paper on each individual present.

    Now that the visiting was over with it was time to start working around home on things. My mother, had made both us girls red felt vertical Santa Claus banners to hang on our door. This banner was made up of one piece and it had circle at the top with a Santa clause picture on it and beneath it was ties of yarn that was sewn on so that the peppermint candies could be tied on there. There were 24 places for the mints, and each day you’d take a mint and at the last one, the next day would be Christmas.

    She also hand knitted us stockings. They were red and green with gold sequins sewn on in a square to like presents, then Santa was on there with an angora beard. Our names were knitted right into the stocking too. It was such a neat thing she did for us.

    On Christmas eve we’d go out and look at the rich people’s homes to see how they were decorated. They were all done beautifully, but one in particular caught my eye, and this wasn’t in the area of the wealthy. This was right in our own neighborhood. A Santa climbed up the ladder with a bag of toys. I could have watched that for hours. I just found that one so interesting, and the very best one. I was about six at the time; it didn’t take much to impress me.

    Once we returned from seeing the decorations, we’d get our baths, and after our bathsm my father would read “How the Grinch stole Christmas” to us girls. Mother would be making a batch of walnut fudge in the big old heavy silver pot she always used. Once the fudge was set up and cooled we’d sit and look at the tree, watch Christmas shows and listen to Christmas music until we were too sleepy to keep our eyes open.

    On Christmas morning, mom and dad would wake us up. We’d come out to the living room and only the lights from the tree were on and they reflected off the mirror on one side of the room and the tv screen on the other side of the room and caught the shiny plastic from the toys sitting in front of the tree. It was so awesome looking to me. It made me feel like it was magical. My mother would snap pictures of the expressions on our face when we saw the toys that we wanted under the tree. The unwrapped presents in front of the tree were from Santa, and the wrapped ones were from our parents. My father would show us the letter from Santa that was written on a paper plate that the cookies once held for him. He (Santa always told us to be good girls, sometimes he would say don’t forget to brush your teeth, or don’t forget to help your baby sister. (Which I was the baby) Then we would look at the gifts Santa brought us, then open the ones mom and dad got us and the last thing we did was to go through our stockings. Going through the stockings was neat. First we’d get an apple or an orange, then a small wrapped present, then another apple or orange, then another present. It seemed it took us hours to go through everything on Christmas morning.

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  2. Hi – The mirror story is precious, and what about those mean brothers? I remember leaving cookies and notes for Santa. There were only crumbs, and a signed thank you. Thanks – Silent

  3. I always have fun hearing about peoples holiday memories. I don’t know if I have a favourite holiday memory, but when I was about 5 years old I remember seeing a red light flashing outside my window while I got ready for my bath. I can recall jumping onto my parents bed and shouting, “Rudolph’s outside! Look I see his nose!”
    Now that I live not too far from an airport, I see Rudolph nearly every night. 😛

  4. Christmas was very different in Italy so many years ago. My favorite childhood memory is waking up on Christmas morning and finding at the foot of my bed a small package with a book or some books that the Baby Jesus had given me the night he was born. Then I would run to the very large nativity scene that I had helped prepare and in the bassinet made of fake hay there was indeed the tiny statuette of the baby. The basket was kept empty until that night. As I grew older it was me that placed the baby in his little basket very late in the evening, but books were always part of Christmas even if they were given to me by my family. The tree had not yet come to Italy in those years. It truly was a religious thing with high mass and a grand choir … now I do not got to church, and and I am not religious at all, but the memories are still sweet.
    Now I detest the commercialized puffery that Christmas has become. I have seen even adults be sorely disappointed because they did not receive a sufficient number of presents …

  5. Although my mom could cook a delicious turkey dinner at Christmas and Thanksgiving, she wasn’t a baker. Dessert was always red jello and always in the same shallow glass bowl. I have that bowl and usually use it for salads as we’re not big jello eaters. Whenever I see red jello, I’m eight years old on Christmas day again!

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