My Mom just loved Christmas. Because of how she grew up (Living on the Edge ), she liked the simple joys in life. Here is the top memories I have of our Christmas growing up.
1. Every day around Christmas time when the mail came, my Mom threw the other mail on the table, but ripped open the Christmas cards. She hurried to get the tape to give the new card a prominent place on the woodworking of the foyer of our house. Christmas was to be celebrated by thinking of others.
2. Fudge. YUM. With marshmallow creme and evaporated milk – the ONLY way to make fudge.**Recipe below.
3. Oyster stew. Officially, we kids hated oyster stew. But Mom loved it and prepared it for herself on Christmas day – with great joy. She mostly took care of others, but took time to treat herself. That was a great lesson for us.
4. We anticipated Christmas morning so much, it was hard to sleep at night. We were allowed to open one gift the night before Christmas. We were allowed a taste of what was to come.
5. Mom treated the gift we gave her like there was nothing more precious in all the world. I remember giving her a jewelry box made of Popsicle sticks. To her, it was the most beautiful box in the world.
6. Just as rapidly as we opened Christmas presents on Christmas morning, Mom gathered the wrapping paper and nicely smoothed it into flat sheets on her lap. We didn’t throw it away – we saved it from year to year to wrap our gifts in it. She was the original recycler.
7. Tinsel. It was the kid’s job to place the tinsel on the tree. One strand at a time. The finishing touch that made the tree special – delegated to the young ones in the family.
8. We were given $5 to buy the whole family a Christmas gift. It was tough to buy for 6 people with only $5. I remember getting blue fingernail polish from my baby sister – a strange gift in the 1960s because only red-tinted colors were made back then. We were given the chance to experience giving as well as receiving.
9. Mom allowed us to stay up and watch the Ed Sullivan Classic Christmas show. We bathed early and got into our pajamas, but it was a special night to be able to stay up late. Best Song: Ed Sullivan Classic Christmas
10. We weren’t given many gifts because we didn’t have the money. We received a few personal gifts, and a big family present (for instance, a pogo stick one year, then a unicycle the next). We were taught early that Christmas wasn’t about the presents, but instead about the presence. We were always together for all Christmas activities – just our family of 7.
As Burton Hillis says, “The best of all gifts around any Christmas tree is the presence of a happy family all wrapped up in each other.”
Recipe for Chocolate Fudge
- 1 (7 ounce) jar marshmallow creme
- 1 1/2 cups white sugar
- 2/3 cup evaporated milk
- 1/4 cup butter
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 2 cups milk chocolate chips
- 1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
- 1/2 cup chopped nuts
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract