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Holiday Nostalgia

Wonderful childhood memories begin surfacing this time of year! Our household was always bursting at the seams with nine children, relatives staying with us, and our many friends who were always welcome. My mother was Betty Crocker long before that famous icon appeared. She could whip up a holiday on a shoestring and make it look like something from Better Homes and Gardens. Our Christmases were joyful. We didn’t always have money for a tree, but the minister and his wife would show up with an “extra” tree and we would be so excited and grateful. We strung popped corn, made colorful paper chains and hung that beautiful tree with dimestore icicles in no particular fashion. Dad would put on a string or two of brightly colored lights and a star on top. We believed it was the most beautiful tree ever and that it could have easily graced the cover of a magazine.

We spent days pouring over the pages of the catalogs we received. Our “wish list” was filled with something from just about every page; none of which we would receive, but nevertheless it kept us out of our mother’s hair. The excitement was almost unbearable by Christmas Eve. My mother had baked dozens of icebox cookies; made divinity and fudge and purchased walnuts and pecans to crack. We had a huge heat register in our dining room and we would all sit around cracking those nuts and my grandfather would walk across the room barefooted and exclaim something loudly in his native Norwegian language after he stepped on those hard shells. I don’t remember ever being told what he said!

We were given oranges and peppermint sticks for treats in a stocking; perhaps a small store-bought toy as a gift. As I look back on those Christmases, I couldn’t even tell you what gift I might have received. All I remember is that all of us were together, laughing, sharing jokes and stories. My mother was and is amazing. She created so many loving memories for us and still does at eighty-two!

I hope you all have great and loving memories of your childhood holidays.