Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Thoughts on Christmas

The air is a wee bit nippy out, and there is a forecast of snow for the weekend. With six grandchildren to delight, Ol' Myrt here busily arranged the miniature village of lighted houses, stores and a tiny church complete with a steeple, under her Christmas Tree. The wreath is on the door, and the electric candles are set in each of the front-facing windows, and except for purchasing the ham, all is nearly ready for the big day.

I've got three kinds of hot chocolate and candy canes to share with the youthful carolers canvassing the neighborhood, though this gray-haired grandmother wouldn't dream of setting out for a moonlit night of wandering the sidewalks and driveways touched by Jack Frost. This is a great time to keep the home fires burning.

The Sunday before Christmas will find me accompanying the choir at our local church services. Since much of our congregation is quite young (with several kids in diapers) I've enlisted the assistance of my youngest married daughter in playing the violin with descant or accompaniment parts. Back in the late 1970s this daughter's older sister Tammy was featured as Mary in a similar church Christmas pageant, though I still groan at the careless manner with which she held the Christ child in that manger scene.

Following the church services, we'll meet at my home to share a wonderful meal, sing familiar carols, and watching the grandchildren act out the parts as we read of Christ's birth from the New Testament.

Below is the only old-timey Christmas photo to come down through our family. It features in the upper right, my maternal grandfather, Lowell S. Froman (born 10 Oct 1899 in Edgerton, Platte,
Missouri) gathering with two of his six siblings at the Christmas tree.

I'm estimating this photo was taken circa 1918-20, since the younger boy pictured below is either Herbert Mitchell Froman (born 28 July 1912) or Elmer Froman (born 1914.) The children's father, Union Civil War veteran Willian G. Froman had died in 1917, so the setting is likely the home of their mother Louisa Mae (Higgins) and one of her subsequent husbands.

Do you remember those kinds of extension cords? The two electric lines were covered with some sort of dark brown woven fabric, instead of being encased by plastic like we see in 2008.

We still make the hand-cut snow-flake ornaments and attach them to the tree with pipe cleaners. But pipe cleaners are now not merely a pipe-smoking accessory, but colorful staple items in the craft section of even our local Walmart stores. We also made chains of colored paper strips using tape or staples to complete each circle segment.

Tinsel is something mom loved, but I really hate it's elusive properties when it comes to vacuuming up stray strands. Tinsel and Easter "grass" are both things I can live without and remain
blissfully happy.

I remember Christmas as a child in a fairly affluent household, where one gift from Santa was the norm in addition to a stocking filled with tangerines, walnuts and ribbon candy. We also received
one gift from our parents, and one from each set of grandparents. In fact, I was jealous of the Jewish kids in our class, because with Hanukkah, I knew they could anticipate at least eight gifts, one for each night of their festival of lights.

When my two eldest daughters were in pre-school they each placed a red votive candle in green plaster molded in a small Dixie Cup. I treasure those candles, and to this day feature them in
a safe, prominent position on my buffet in the dining room.

Perhaps this Christmas, as the world faces a severe recession, we will return to those simpler times, where most gifts are handmade.

This year, in my own home, I am assisting each of the grandchildren in making things for their parents for Christmas. I hope this will instill a feeling of love and giving in these little ones. Certainly the suspense of keeping the secret, and the joy of watching mom and dad opening up the homemade treasures will shine brighter than the quick-fix of a store bought item.

Let us remember to share our bounty with those less fortunate. Contributing to the local food bank, and also to the homeless shelter are on the top of my list of things to do with my grandchildren.

Happy family tree climbing!
Myrt :)
Your friend in genealogy.


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