*I originally posted this last year during a Blogmas challenge I was participating in but the Christmas memories remain the same and continue to gather in my heart and mind.
Here we are on the last day of the 12 Days of Blogmas challenge and I have managed to post every day. Hurray for me! I usually have a very difficult time sticking to a schedule with my blog, it isn’t the writing I have trouble with, it’s actually getting it posted. This year I stuck to it and got something on the blog every day, even if it was very early in the morning or late at night (you know, the time when most moms can find a few moments for themselves 😌 I can remember when our girls were small, having to work on the sweaters, scarves or dolly dresses or blankets I was making them for Christmas early in the morning or late at night; listening for tiny footsteps on the stairs, ready to hide the contents of my hands before they could spy anything.
I can’t count the number of scrap blankets I’ve made over the years
Handicrafts have always been a big part of our Christmases and this still continues today. Our girls love to have all the little cousins over for craft nights and whenever our grandson has the chance, he will join craft sessions at holiday events.
Making a vintage Christmas wreath at the Clark County Museum Heritage Holidays event
Many of my fondest memories come from attending Christmas events with our family. Some of those are from this week (making memories with our grandsons are so special, I don’t forget those from the past but these are different.) We were fortunate to receive tickets for the Magical Forest at Opportunity Village in Las Vegas during our visit. This was a new event for us and it didn’t disappoint. The trees themselves were amazing.
The Magical Forest
And what boy (or girl) wouldn’t be excited to take a ride on a miniature train, especially one that loops its way through a forest draped with glittering lights?
The Forest Express
Of course, I do have fond memories of Christmases from my childhood. I was reminded of one, in particular, this week as we drove by a Christmas tree lot that was selling flocked Christmas trees. I hadn’t seen a stock of trees like that since my family lived in Florida when I was eleven. That Christmas, things were pretty tight for our family since my dad had been laid off from his job until after the new year. My parents made sure there was food on the table but there wasn’t enough left over for one of those very expensive flocked trees. Knowing that our mom was crushed at the thought of not be able to hang her cherished decorations on a tree that year, my brother and I approached the man at the lot and asked if he could spare some of the trimmed branches for us. He happily agreed to our picking up the discarded greenery so DJ and I carried as many home as our arms could carry.
We carefully arranged our branches in a lovely container (the bathroom trash can, it was clear plastic faux crystal and looked beautiful to us) then showed our mom at dinnertime. You would have thought we were presenting her with real crystal and diamond crusted tree the way she reacted. I’ll never forget that year when we had so little but truly had so much.
I remember another Christmas when we lived in a warmer climate. We were spending a few months in Phoenix where my dad was consulting on some construction project or other. Our cousin who worked as a thoroughbred horse groom at Turf Paradise race track was there at the same time. Since he was alone down there, we invited him to spend Christmas with us. My mom was worried he wasn’t eating properly and felt she needed to take care of him for his mother (her eldest sister.)
The way that boy ate seemed to be proof that my mother’s concerns were well-founded. I don’t think I have ever seen food disappear quite that fast at any other moment in my life.
Many of our holiday memories center around the meals we share with our families.
I remember well the times we gathered around the table in my grandmother’s kitchen. She made sure no one ever had reason to leave without having enough to eat and then some.
Then there were the desserts. Flapper, apple, and pumpkin pies. White cake with vanilla sauce, crumb cake, and matrimonial cake (made with rhubarb filling.) Home canned fruit with ice cream. And always freshly whipped cream to top whatever you felt need topping.
Most years her meals would off without a hitch but there was the one time that her apples were a little juicier than she thought and bubbling over in the oven, they burst into flames! All we heard was cracking and her screaming “Louis” at the top of her lungs to bring Grampa out of the livingroom.
He calmly took in the scene, reached for the fire extinguisher that was hanging on the wall and splat, he put the fire out in one go – but left Gramma to clean up the mess of burnt fruit pies covered in fire extinguisher foam.
Fruit pies may look innocent enough but can be dangerous 😱
My husband loves to try out different restaurants when we travel and during the holidays this is no different. Of course, he also has his favorites. One of those was the old Thunder Mountain Barbecue Ranch at Disneyland. He loved the casual outdoor venue and the hokey entertainment, not to mention the food.
Barbecue chicken, ribs, beans, corn…you get the idea. And then there was his favorite dessert, a s’mores pie served in a cast iron skillet. He made sure to visit one last time on our Christmas visit a couple of years ago before it closed to make room for the new Star Wars Land.
That was the same Christmas trip where I got to attend the 90th birthday party of one of my favorite actors, Mr. Dick Van Dyke. I just couldn’t believe our luck when hubby read Mr. Van Dyke would be in the parade that weekend and then our daughters found the group who was putting on the event.
I managed to contact this friendly group of fans who welcomed me into their group and gave me a copy of the limited edition birthday card designed by the man himself. We had a terrific time.
Limited Edition card from the event
So many Christmases, so many memories. There was the year that my dad’s sister decided to host us, only to forget to thaw the turkey and try to cook it quickly. A piece of advice, turning your oven to its highest temperature and leaving the lid off the pan results in something that while delicious in a steak (Chicago style – charred on the surface and very rare on the inside, in this case, still frozen!)
Then there was the time we had several family members coming over to our place in the country. All was going well until we heard a big bang in the kitchen – it is NOT a good thing when your oven element explodes while the turkey is being roasted! (Lucky for us Home Dept had a universal replacement and my turkey had the lid on. Disaster avoided.
Living in the country can have its own special challenges but there are the fun parts too, like when our grandson got his first ATV. Boy did he ever have a good time on that little battery-powered four-wheeler.
He didn’t seem to mind the cold but my phone did not want to cooperate in taking a good picture
There have been Christmases in a hotel for a staycation treat.
And the joy of sharing Christmas with your great-grandma.
But the best Christmas memories of all are those that we continue to make with our families and friends.