Friday, December 10, 2010

Of Christmases Past

My very first memory of Christmas I must have been about 4 or so. It was after we moved from the big farmhouse that I was born in, into the little 25' trailerhouse that I grew up in. We really didn't have any room for a Christmas tree, so my mother found an artificial one that was less than 12 inches tall - a REAL Charlie Brown Christmas tree, if you will. No lights, just teeny-tiny glass ornaments. This little tree sat on the dresser in the bedroom that I shared with Big Brother, and the packages were piled around it. Christmas Eve finally arrived, my mother had a nice dinner ready and my father arrived home from work bringing with him a 6-pack of pop (soda, for you NON-Midwesterners). That was our special treat for Christmas. Otherwise we never got "pop" throughout the rest of the year. (And to think that I now have a fridge full out in the garage!!) We had to let my Dad know in the morning before he left for work, what flavor we wanted so he could bring it home that night. So after the evening meal was eaten (my Mom and Dad were lutefisk afficianados) and the dishes were done and put away, we sat down with our bottle of pop - yes, it came in glass bottles back then, and the gifts were passed out. This particular year I received a bathrobe that my mother made for me - it was a large Hawaiian print on a teal blue background, made from a puckery-type fabric, and I thought it was just the most beautiful thing I'd ever been given. Why that particular gift sticks in my mind after all these years I can't tell you, but it certainly made an impression on me. I've received many finer things in the years since, but in my mind's eye, that one is still clear as a bell.

Then there was the year Big Brother got his first REAL job. He was in high school and worked as a lineman for a rural electric company. He made pretty good money, but was saving for college. That year he bought me the biggest doll I can ever remember getting. She was beautiful - a Cinderella doll, 24" tall and dressed in gold lame'. She even came with a small gold (plastic) coach that would hold all the pearl and diamond jewelry and tiara that she was wearing. I was so proud of her and had to show her to the neighbor girl that lived down the road. My mother wasn't too keen on this family and wasn't crazy about having the kids in the house and I was soon to discover why. One day after she and her younger sister were visiting, I discovered that my Cinderella doll's coach and all her jewelry were missing, along with the gold lame' dress that Cinderella had been wearing. Now I had a naked doll.

And of course, there was Christmas Day of 1966 - a day I shall never forget. Ole came to pick me up in the dark blue 1949 Ford that he was driving at that time. We were going to spend Christmas Day out at Aunt Mary and Uncle Henry's house with all his relatives. As we got into the car to take off, he dug in his pocket and pulled out a small velvet box - a diamond engagement ring! We were married five months later. Back in those days it didn't take a year or longer to plan and execute a wedding like it seems to today. Nor did they cost up into the thousands and thousands of dollars like they do now.

Our first married Christmas we spent in a little rented trailerhouse too - just like when I grew up. We knew Ole's draft number was coming up (Viet Nam era), so we just kind of lived day by day at that time. By our second Christmas we were living in Chicago where Ole was going to school gratis the Navy, and we were able to drive back to Minnesota for the Holidays. Then came Iceland, where we spent two Christmases - I'll tell you more about that tomorrow. Until then - - -

Love Lena


Marge said...

We would get "pop" on the 4th of July at our cousin's house. And we could have a whole bottle! Either Orange Crush, root beer, grape, 7-up or Coke. And sometimes at my grandma's house we could split a bottle three ways. Remember those small bottles? Split 3 ways gave us two swallows in a juice glass! I don't remember my parents ever buying pop.

I want to hear more about the Iceland days. Our first Christmas away from home was in Bangor, Maine. Almost Iceland!

Carolyn said...

I love your stories! Have you ever considered putting them into a book? I would definitely buy one. Take care!