By Lynn Moncus: QCS columnist
At this time of year, those of us in the over-the-hill-gang tend to cause the climbers to roll their eyes as we recall our memories of Christmas during our childhood. We merely smile because we feel sure they will do likewise as they age and begin to share their memories. In fact, I hear many young ones recalling the good times they had only a few years ago.
The cold weather just naturally returned my thoughts to the canyons of home and the wonderful celebrations we had there. My dad and brother would cut a small pinon tree to place in our very small living room, and all of us would help decorate it with our small collection of glass ornaments, reused tinsel, and a few strings of popcorn. We would then sit around it in the soft lamp light and listen to our parents tell stories of the past, and then listen to Mother read stories while we munched on more popcorn and ate some of her wonderful, homemade fudge.
On Christmas Eve, we would climb the hill, get into the car, and drive to the school house to attend the “Christmas Tree,” a community celebration at which a simple church service would be held, many carols would be sung, and Santa Claus would appear.
I remember my third Christmas when Santa came a little too close to me and suddenly turned away after wishing me a Merry Christmas. I told Mother that Santa’s eyes were just like Dad’s and that he wore the same boots Dad wore. She did some fast talking as she helped me open my little sack of candy and fruit and certainly had me convinced that I had seen the real Santa Claus.
The cold drive back to the rim of the canyon was most pleasant for me because I was wrapped in a blanket and went quietly to sleep with wonderful thoughts of the evening’s experience.
Although I awakened as the car stopped, I pretended to be too sleepy to walk down that hill, knowing that Dad would carry me. That little ruse worked until I was far too big to be carried anywhere.
We always opened our gifts on Christmas morning after our parents had built a warm fire and Mother had begun cooking breakfast. We’d take our time admiring each beautiful gift, most of which were homemade and would be so happy we could hardly eat breakfast before beginning to play with our toys.
Although my brother was much older than I, he would play with me and keep me entertained while our parents finished the morning chores Then, all of us would sit around the tree for a little while before getting ready to go o Grandmother’s for Christmas dinner.
Often, we’d just walk across the canyon to her house because we really didn’t need to go in the car. We’d all be in a hurry because we knew we might be joined by Aunt Ima and her four children if they had managed to drive all the way from Nara Visa to spend the day. If they were there, the canyons would echo with our laughter as we romped and played.
We spent little time indoors in those days because we were very active children and preferred to be running and playing instead of sitting around in the kitchen listening to the older people talking. We could sneak away to ride the milk pen calves, run up and down the sides of the canyon, or hide behind rocks to tell our own kinds of stories,
As you prepare for Christmas, recall some of your own favorite times and just enjoy your memories. Aggie and I surely wish each of you a very Merry Christmas, and hope you will enjoy yours as much as we will enjoy ours.