The first christmas I remember was 1952. I was three, and Granny was staying with us. I got up ahead of everyone else and opened all the presents under the tree. Only Granny's intervention saved me from the spanking of a lifetime! By the next year, she was dead, but as she always did her shopping early, there were prezzies from her anyway. A little spooky.
I remember 1956 as well, because my parents threw a huge party. There were games and lights and skits and cocktails and laughter. I was packed off to bed pretty early, but thoroughly enjoyed staying up as late as I did. There were mince tarts, marzipan fruit, and all sorts of other home made treats that never happened any other time of year. Of course I "helped," and got to eat all the "seconds." Good times.
By the next year, we were in Canada, and plunged into poverty. Dad had found a minimum wage job picking holly, and Mom did her best around the house. We had been skimping on meals since Thanksgiving (October, up there), in order to have enough butter, eggs and sugar to ensure at least some goodies for the holiday. Dad cut a tree, somewhere out there in the Hundred Acre Wood, and dragged it home. He had to cut another three feet off it to fit into the house. It was a bad year for such a huge tree, as we had very little in the way of decorations...just some old ornaments we found out in a shed and some things we made, like paper chains and chinese lanterns. We made icicles out of foil from cigarette packs and soap wrappers. That was the year of the doll.
The christmas in high school (must have been 1965) when I was supposed to visit my boyfriend in Utah, but was thwarted by the weather was another memorable one. All cookies and hot chocolate and carolling in the frosty air.
In 1967, I was in Toronto and married. We were very broke, and I mooched a couple of discarded branches from the christmas tree seller and tied them together. I polished up pennies to hang on our tiny "tree." Pretty dismal, all things considered, but there you go. Brian's mother lived in Toronto, but, as she had refused to attend our wedding a month earlier, we didn't really expect any christmas cheer from that quarter.
There was the year I was literally all alone...maybe 1969, and I cooked a 22-lb turkey (my first), and forgot the stuffing.
By 1971, SSS and I were together, and we had three or four christmasses with his family before we headed south to Texas and started the attempt to meld his traditions with mine to create something new. I do remember the year Chandra was two and a half and stayed up half the night. Christmas morning SSS and I got a little pickled on bloody maries, waiting for her to wake up.
The lead-up to christmas around Jimmy was always a bit dismal. He (rightly) insisted on the bills being paid before money was spent on christmas, and it would have gone a lot better if he had not felt the need to remind the kids of that, every chance he got. Still, his family always made merry and welcomed us with open arms.
Jim always seemed to expect drama. He told harrowing tales of his family christmasses, will all sorts of decorations and happy foods and yet...fights over board games and people stomping around all mad about something or other. That was never tolerated in my family. Peace and goodwill reigned supreme, even if it took a lot of self-control on everyone's part to achieve it.
Now, I am tasked with helping to create holidays for grandchildren that they will remember fondly.
Hope it works.