It's going to be Christmas in a few days. The anticipation was great even when I was a small child. I remember.....
Dad took an hour to go to Grandfather Altenburg's farm, cut down a tree and bring it home. He dragged it into the parlor...where he put wooden crossboards on the base to set it up. Then it was back to work for him.
After dinner, Dad put some oil and popcorn kernels in a large, heavy frying pan, which he pushed back and forth across the hot burners of the kitchen cookstove. In a few minutes, the heat started the kernels popping and Dad would holler, “Somebody get me a lid.”
Mom quickly handed him one and he proceeded to agitate the kernels of corn...back and forth...until the popping stopped. After two or three pans of corn were popped, we would thread our needles with long strings and proceed to create the strings of popcorn to adorn our tree.
While we were busy creating popcorn strings, Dad would put the lights on the tree. When he finished, he took the threaded strings of popcorn and draped them around the tree. Then we found sturdy branches that would hold the ornaments. Finally, we carefully placed icicles...one by one...on each twig to complete an awesome Christmas Tree.
On Christmas Eve, Mom would put up a string behind the stove in the living room. My brother and I hung two of Mom's stockings there thinking that “large stockings” would yield many gifts.”
Leaving a plate of cookies by the stove, we went to bed believing wondrous things would occur during the night.
On Christmas morning, our first stop would be the stockings hung behind the heating stove...nothing stuck out of the tops, but they had a bulge in the toe. It yeilded a tangerine or an orange...most rare in a Pennsylvania winter...a handful of English walnuts, and maybe a dime or a nickel. Wonderful.
After breakfast, we gathered around the Christmas tree in the parlor to see what Santa had brought...yes, we believed. We opened a package or two with new clothes and one with a toy. One year I remember finding my rag doll, Punkin, wrapped in a blanket.
Eighty years plus later.....
Christmases have come and gone in many places...Townville...Guys Mills ...Meadville...Pittsburgh...in Pennsylvania...Bad Kissingen, Germany ...Kansas ...Texas...California...the moving stopped here.
Bountiful holidays have been enjoyed by our family...Dad, Mom, and two boys. We have enjoyed great military dinners in several mess halls and dinners with friends and at home...but Mom never roasted a whole turkey.
I baked dozens of cookies to give away. We enjoyed holiday festivities with friends and family...for many years.
The holiday has gone full circle. One son and I have everything we “need.” We enjoy the community festivities. For the first time, I experienced “The Messiah” in total ...when I was in college I sang an excerpt in a holiday presentation. What a nice memory. The number of friends available has diminished, but those here are treasured.
Gifts for family members are sent via food orders and checks. We appreciate and enjoy the largesse that comes our way. Thank you to one and all who remember I am still here.
Sometimes a “Merry Christmas” is the best gift I can give...so to one and all ...MERRY CHRISTMAS and A HAPPY NEW YEAR.