Friday, December 17, 2010
Our parents made holidays special ...
I can almost hear it now -- the rustle and crackle of gift wrap on the other side of our parents' bedroom door. Daddy was inside there, and he was making more racket than necessary, because he loved making us squeal with impatience!
Are you almost finished wrapping them NOW?
We could hear his soft 'Heh-heh' chuckle, knowing he had our full attention. I'm convinced he prolonged the process just to make us squirm, giggle and squeal. And try to guess what he and Mom had bought for us on their holiday shopping spree.
With very little money, our parents still managed to make the holidays special for six children in the 1950's. We each got one special gift, something hand-picked by parents who knew their children well. It was many years later I realized we were poor as church mice back then.
Dad's job as carpenter was steady during summer, and it was during those months he and Mom would buy extra supplies to store away for lean winter months. We may have been on a tight budget, but the love and laughter in our home made up for other things we lacked.
Back to Dad torturing us with prolonged gift wrapping procedures... I didn't dare run to use the bathroom during that time, because I didn't want to miss anything! So I crossed my legs and danced from one foot to the other. ;-)
Pleeeeez hurry up, Daddy!
Mom was usually behind us in the kitchen making tasty treats. Her apple pies were made from scratch, and she always used Jonathan apples. Once they were sliced and placed in the bottom crust, she'd add sugar, cinnamon and dots of butter. Next, the top crust was lovingly placed over all before the decorative crimping began. I liked watching her thumb and forefinger gently pinch the dough around the edges of the pie pan.
Other treats she made: Chocolate fudge, pretty divinity, puffy macaroons, peanut butter cookies and more. Daddy usually picked out the store-bought candies. Among them, we could count on Brach's chocolate stars and peanut clusters, jellied orange slices and colorful hard candies. There was also a big bowl filled with nuts of all kinds -- English walnuts, pecans, hazelnuts and Brazil nuts. A nutcracker and handy pick were always nearby.
Oh ... I can practically taste those goodies again, and I can almost hear Dad behind the door wrapping gifts, too (crinkle, crackle ...). When he was *finally* finished, he really enjoyed parading past us with those mysterious packages. I don't remember name tags on our gifts, which may have been part of prolonging the joyful suspense of guessing?
"I think that one's mine ... it's big enough for a doll!"
"Or mine," our little brother would chime in. "It might be a fire truck."
Oh, the torture of not knowing! Visions of various gifts -- not sugar plums -- danced in our heads at night while we cuddled down to sleep. Whose package was the biggest? The one with the unusual shape?
Christmas morning, the mysteries were solved as gifts were handed out and opened. On the occasions our St. Louis grandmother joined us, we each got an extra gift. The year I got a little tea set from my parents and a pretty doll from Grandma, I felt rich, indeed!
Several years ago we got to return to the old home place. I knocked on the door, apologized for dropping by unannounced and asked the owners if I could, perhaps, take a quick peek at my childhood home? They were gracious enough to invite me in with a smile and even asked questions about the good ol' days.
What a shock to see how tiny that house on Oakwood Avenue really was! How in the world did eight people manage to live in such a cracker box? The living room wall had since been bumped out to include our parents' former bedroom -- which made it a grand 16 x 12, if that. The rooms where gifts were wrapped -- and later opened -- were now united.
Our house was indeed tiny, but it was big enough to grow a family on a shoe-string budget. It was also big enough to build a happy childhood for six children. And all because of two precious parents who loved us...
I'm all wrapped up in some
wonderful holiday memories tonight!