Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Christmas then and now... part one...

I find myself thinking of Christmas when I was growing up... a lot..

(everyone tells me it's cuz I'm getting older and that's what older people do... look back!!)

I'm not buying it!!

Instead, as I look back, I can see how the Christmas traditions we celebrate in our home now, were formed in the home I grew up in, probably most of yours were too.

The whole month of December was just different than all the other months, and it still is. There is a special glow to December. Everything is intensified, joy and fun and laughter are brighter in December. Sorrow is also deeper for many in December.

I have not found a single picture of our family at Christmas as I was growing up. Our kids today not only have gazillions of photos of their kids, but full movies as well, and lots of them are contained in the mystery of that little cell phone...

With or without photos, my memories of Christmas at 270 South Parkwood are as clear as a bell.

My mother baked all month long, and she gave away her Norwegian cookies by the hundreds, probably 1000's... but she also saved enough to satisfy the 3 of us all through Christmas.

She was born in Norway, and they celebrated on Christmas Eve with their gifts and dinner, and later the midnight church service in the frozen snow of Tromso, Norway. Her traditions were also ours as I grew up.

All of my dad's family came on Christmas Eve. The 3 of us kids could hardly stand it until that night came. Our tree was piled high with gifts for everyone. We didn't have a lot of money, but we sure knew how to use Woolworth's 5 & 10 cent store and wrap it up like gold! We used to ask my mother WHERE did you buy that? Her answer was always the same... 'at a nice department store', and we knew it was W.T. Grant or Woolworth's!

After a scrumptious dinner, the grown ups always insisted on doing the dishes before we finally got to the tree. We were practically jumping up and down by the time they were finished.

Dad always read the Christmas story from Luke, and we sang carols and Dad prayed. The candles were gleaming and the love was all around...

But part 2 is really part 1... it began as Christmas in Norway, when my mother was a child...


elaine @ peace for the journey said...

Love this tradition... I think I'd enjoy opening gifts on Christmas Eve! We have a few traditions as well. I hope to reflect on them in a coming post.

We had a local dime store where I grew up. How well I remember thinking it was the biggest, best store in the world.


Felisol said...

I like the gift of solid rooting. It can't be bought with gold.
All that work our mothers put down baking and cooking for Christmas.
In our family the cooking gene has skipped a generation. My mother was a formidable chef till the age of 83. Everything made from scratch. The steak, the 5 sorts of vegetables, the yummy gravy, the rice cream with either cranberry or cloud berry jam. The only thing bought was the marzipan pig, the prize for the lucky finder of the almond hidden in the rice cream.

What a cruel waiting for my mother and grandmother to finish the washing up after dinner. The longest 30 minutes in history.
I guess our packages were more modest than your. There were no abundance in post war Norway. Happiness was having an aunt in America sending a real America doll. My aunts never did. Then my mother was one of nine siblings. Sending dolls to all the nieces might have ruined them.

This year daughter Serina has demanded to make a real grandmom dinner. I'm so looking forwards to our core family gathering again.
I guess now we have all we need, much more than we need, actually.
The love around the Christmas table, tears shed when my brother is reading the Gospel, and joy and laughter over home made dinner, that's what I'm really looking forwards too.
Again, I'm rich.

Castles Crowns and Cottages said...

Oh Sonja,

I have the fondest memories of Woolworth's. My mother would treat me to a candy bar after a long walk to the main drag in Los Angeles where J.C. Pennys, Woolworths, Sears and all the other fine old-fashioned department stores were decked out for the holidays. LOVELY MEMORIES HERE FOR ME...Anita

manthano said...

You are always bringing up the "good old days".
Thanks. Keep it up. Some times it hurts. But
it also shows me that God has been very good
to us.

God bless you.

Debbie said...

I am already looking forward to part 2. I don't know that much if anything about customs from Norway now that I think about it.

Are you going to post the recipe for her bread? Probably not. It's probably a special family secret recipe, and that's OK.

I don't have pictures of our Christmas growing up, either, but like you I have memories. I have wonderful memories of a simpler times and simple customs. We shopped at those very two stores just like you.

Kathleen said...

Oh how I love reflections, especially these sort that sweep us away to another, simpler time. My memories are equally colorful & sweet. How we can rejoice in the wisdom our parents passed along in their handling of so precious a season!

Until I was ten or so, I threw up EVERY Christmas Eve because I'd get sooooo excited I couldn't be quieted. Much of that remains, but thank God I need not rush to the bathroom any more :)

Can't wait for Part 2!

Sandy said...

I remember going to Grant's and Woolworth's with my mother as a young child. I thought they were the most exciting stores in the world. I enjoyed this sweet reflection of your childhood Christmases.

Farm Girl said...

I love your stories. I love hearing about your parents and the customs your Mom brought with her.
I can't wait for the next part.
Have a wonderful day,

Vee said...

I'll want to read Part I for sure.

Saleslady371 said...

I look back a lot also during holidays and miss my siblings in Chicago. The childhood bond in adulthood really comes alive doesn't it? My Mom was a baker too and our house smelled wonderful in December.

Walk In Truth said...

Hi Sonja,

I like how you addressed that December is also a month that many suffer deeper sorrow, because I need to be reminded of that. I am sorry to hear that there are no photos at Christmas from your childhood, but it's clear that the wonderful memories are imprinted on your heart and mind.

Your Dad was an awesome man of God, and I think that is a great idea to read from Luke. I love that your mom baked all month long, and that she did it for others.

God bless you friend and your Christmas,

Just Be Real said...

Blessings to you dear one . You are so much appreciated. Thank you for your encouraging words always. Blessings.

Beth Herring said...

Can't wait for part 2!

Debbie Petras said...

Sonja, we share some of the same Norwegian traditions. We always celebrated on Christmas Eve. My dad still reads the Christmas story at the table before we eat from Luke. My grandfather used to do the reading when he was alive. Spritz cookies and many other Norwegian cookies were abundant. And we always had to do the dishes by hand of course, before we could open any presents.

I love reading about your Christmases. I'm looking forward to part 2.

Love you,

Anonymous said...

nice post! thank you so much for sharing... happy holidays...loves soraya

Sharon said...

Such precious memories, Sonja!

Traditions are such a wonderful thing. They bond families together, and they warm the heart. I remember one crazy tradition that started in my family when my sons were young. We got hit with the flu like the week before Christmas. Everyone was so sick. So, by Christmas Eve, we were totally worn out. Somehow we straggled out and got a tree, and brought In n' Out burgers home to eat while we were last-minute decorating.

To this day, my sons (whether they're with me or not) always get In n' Out burgers on Christmas Eve. It's one of their fondest memories!

Aren't you glad that we're bonded together in the family of God, too! He has given us some wonderful traditions!


Can't wait for Part 2 (or is it Part 1???)

LisaShaw said...

Beautiful sharing Sonja of beautiful memories.

I had to smile as I read about your Mother's baking for the month. That was my Grandma as well. She would bake pies from November through January for the Thanksgiving and Christmas season and give them away. I had such fun eating slice after slice myself :)

I also remember her taking me to the 5 and dime store...Woolworth's!

I'm praying for those who are hurting this time of year. There are many!!
Love you!