Hark, the Herald Angels Sing…

I saw a post on Facebook from my daughter the other day saying there was just something wrong with seeing Christmas decorations already out at the local craft stores and it was only August.  Her sister’s Mother-in-Law replied that she would order the Christmas items in January for her store, to be delivered in June, so she could spend the summer getting decorations ready to put up for the season. 
Wreaths for the door at a local craft store, on the shelves in August
Santa's on Sale
Tons of ornaments ready to go

The perfect tree just waiting for a family

Way back when I was a kid, and that was a long time ago…I remember waiting with anticipation for the Friday following Thanksgiving.  That was the real beginning of Christmas season for me and lots of other people.  We would go to the stores in downtown Tulsa to look at the decorated windows while listening to the Christmas music playing over the speaker system. To the seven year old's eye, decorations seemed to magically appear on beautiful Christmas trees placed throughout the stores.  One of the highlights of the season was the Christmas Parade with Santa riding on his sleigh urging his reindeer on. People smiled a lot at each other. Men would open doors for women whose arms were overloaded with packages, tip their hats and smile. The women were appreciative.  The pace was hectic but the spirit of the season was high and it was a fun time.  Sidewalk Santa’s would stand on the corners ringing the bells for the Salvation Army.  We always would put in our spare change. 

Then came the day we would head to the Christmas tree lot to pick out that years tree.  Was it tall enough, full enough, would it fit the corner where the Christmas tree always went? One year we got a flocked tree.  It was pretty, but hard to decorate.  Mom put red ribbons and red birds all over it with white lights.  We all stood back and decided that next year we would go back with the green tree since we could decorate it in lots of colors and tinsel. Back then bubble lights were the in thing and as the light got hot it would make the colored water in the tube bubble.  It was fun to watch and just did not have a place on a white flocked Christmas tree.

Christmas Eve my mother would give me $6.oo, I would catch the bus which stopped across the street from the house, board it and get off the bus at 3rd and Cincinnati in Tulsa and head for the downtown area of 5th and Main Street. I was 12 then and old enough to ride the bus alone. I spent hours going from store to store searching for the right gift. From my six dollars. I paid for my lunch, bus fare both ways and a present each for 4 members of my family.  I dare say that I can’t do that anymore.  Every gift that I purchased was from the heart, a set of Monogrammed Handkerchiefs for my dad, scented padded hangers for my mom, a clip-on bow-tie for my brother and hose with seams in the back for my grandmother. 

For lunch I would head to my favorite eatery, Coney Island, purchase two Coneys with mustard, chili and finely chopped onions and a Coke. Every shopkeeper would say Merry Christmas or Happy Hanukkah as they knew their clientele.  After a hard days shopping the last thing I did was to find the Salvation Army Santa and put some coin in the pot, then catch the bus home thinking that I was so big to go it alone and very proud of my purchases, as I had spent a lot of time agonizing over color and size.  Back then each gift you purchased came with a box. So it always seemed that I had an armful no matter the size.    

We lived in a simpler, gentler time.  My mom didn't worry about me being 12 and heading downtown on my own; I had to be back at 4:30 and always made it in time.  It was unheard of if there was a kidnapping or an assault on a child.  It wasn't until I was 14 that I started taking my brother with me so he could do his shopping. 

After a hard day of pounding the pavement I would sneak into the house, with my loot and make a beeline for my bedroom while grabbing the bag of wrapping paper, ribbon, scissors, tape and hauling it with me as I shut the door and yelled “Don’t you dare come in here, or you’ll spoil your surprise!”  I always managed to hand back a bit of change to my mom from my $6.00 and felt I had done a great job staying within my budget.   Now days we would say Budget? What’s that?  Charge that Please…

The weeks before Christmas, the house would be filled with delicious odors of baked cookies, minced meat and pumpkin pies, chocolate and spice cakes. Occasionally we would have a lemon or chocolate chess pie. Mom and I would grocery shop for the Christmas meal and make sure that we checked and doubled checked to make sure we had everything as she only wanted to shop once.  My job was to make the biscuits and cornbread for the stuffing and to wash and clean the turkey.  Back then turkeys were not as clean as they are now. I would find lots of feather and quill points still in the bird which had to be removed.  I use to scrub it down with cornmeal inside and out, then water bath it with salt water.  Afterwards I would inject it with butter and put it back in the refrigerator to keep until the next morning when we would make the stuffing for the bird and get it ready for the oven.  I also made cookies with the old, old fashioned cookie press and decorated to my heart’s content.  It was so much fun. 

My father was a big kid at heart.  We had to open our Christmas gifts at the stroke of midnight as he couldn't wait until Christmas morning. It wasn't until many years later that we got him to open them on Christmas morning so he could see the expression on his grandchildren’s faces as they discovered their gifts from Santa. My grandmother would drive over around 10 p.m. and would bring all her presents to put under the tree.  Before it was said and done we had a ton of presents or so it seemed.  Somehow Santa’s presents always made it under the tree before midnight, how I don’t know but they did. After a toast of eggnog we would choose someone to play "Santa" and for the next several hours we opened presents much to the delight of all. 

As our own children came along “Santa” would come and visit with them at their grandparent’s house before they were tucked into bed to dream of Sugar Plum Fairies dancing in their heads.

I say leave Christmas alone.  Let the kids get back to school, celebrate fall, football and Halloween, be thankful for family, friends and a bountiful year at Thanksgiving and then celebrate Christmas and what the season is about. 

439 Days till retirement... 

I have a new follower Laurrie Piland with her food blog

Baked Lava, she is cooking her way across the USA in an RV. Check out her blog.  Welcome Laurrie, glad to have you at our campfire.

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