When I tell stories about my Christmas memories, it brings me back to the house my father built, where I lived my entire childhood. I grew up in a simpler time when Christmas stories were not about shopping until you drop. Some memories and stories I have are about presents, but the main thing that makes them great Christmas memories and stories is the joy of the Christmas season
Proper candy cane etiquette
Eating a candy cane was once a ritual that occupied a child for at least an hour. Candy was a treat, not an everyday occurrence. Unwrap the candy cane, except for the part on the loop. This is the holder. Put about 3-4 inches in the mouth, drawing it back out slowly. Repeat until you have a sharp pointed object. Now bite the tip off and start again. Do this until you get to the curved part. Pop the rest in your mouth and suck on it slowly until gone.
This is one of my favorite Christmas memories. One year an Aunt of mine made everyone on her list one of these. It’s like a hat for your nose. It has a knitted strap that holds it on. The funniest part is the tassel at the end. Memories of everyone from big burly men to cute little kids wearing these silly things still bring me laughs today at Christmas. As you can imagine stories of this Christmas gift have become a part of family history.
A piece of paper is cut into a square and then folded repeatedly several times until it’s a small triangle. Notches are cut from the sides of the triangle. The paper is then unfolded to reveal a beautiful handmade paper snowflake. My memories of this Christmas activity include cutting notches on the wrong edge and picking up millions of teeny tiny little pieces afterward. My Mom would get so mad because there was no paper left in the house.
Evidence of Santa
My Dad went to great lengths to prove there was a Santa every year at Christmas. There were his bootprints in the fireplace ashes, for one thing. No one else would go in there, would they? Then there were the jingle bells from Santa’s sleigh we heard as we fell to sleep. Furthermore, why would the news people be tracking Santa’s progress across the sky, if he only existed in stories? I swear one year I heard his “HO HO HO” just before the jingle bells. It just couldn’t be a coincidence, could it?
Mom used to make this great taffy stuff that was poured over the snow to harden. Take a big pan full of clean, not yellow snow and bring it in the house. Yes, snow was clean then, they are not just stories. Then make this stuff and pour it on the snow while it’s still hot. Memories are thin but the candy wasn’t as great as the fun of doing it so maybe some other candy would work just as well.
These were totally uncool little red rubber boots that went over shoes to make them waterproof. Once you got them on, there was a sort of hair tie looking thing that fastened around a button to tighten them up. I hated those boots but I still have memories of Christmas with those boots on my feet. I also remember getting teased a lot about those stupid boots at school.
As a child perusing items for sale at the back of a catalog, I came across a box of dolls, 100 dolls for 99 cents. What great fortune! My mother tried to explain that it was a hoax, but allowed the dollar to be sent off assuming, of course that it was a good way to learn a lesson and would only cost a buck. The dolls arrived and there were 100 of them. Unfortunately, they were pink hard molded plastic, teeny little statues, about a half inch tall. Ironically, as disappointed as I was, those little dolls created many fond memories of playing with the tiny little people on the fireplace hearth.
Hunks of chocolate, ribbon candy and nut cracking lessons
We didn’t get fancy candy. Still, there are many fond memories of sharing traditional Christmas snacks with my Dad. He used to buy huge blocks of chocolate and if I was really lucky he would break off a piece for me. Eating the chocolate involved a ritual of scraping your teeth down the side, using them to shave some off, which would then melt immediately in the mouth. Then there was the super thin ribbon candy, so thin that it would cut the tongue of anyone not schooled by stories of past wounded children. Dad felt it was of great importance that everyone knew how to crack a nut. So my Christmas memories include being schooled in this art as well. Nut placement was the key, followed by pressure applied.
Every year, our Christmas stockings, knitted by my Aunt, with our names on them contained one or more of five different items. There was a candy cane, some chocolate, walnuts in the shell, an orange, and cereal box toys that my Mom saved up all year. Our simple Christmas stockings have produced numerous stories to numerous children and grandchildren and a lot of great Christmas memories over the years.
The perfect tree
My older brother and sister planted pine trees all over about a half acre of our land when they were small. From the time I was 10 on, there are memories of picking Christmas trees from that lot. The older brothers usually went out with Dad to cut down the tree, Once they left home I was allowed to choose the tree. It didn’t matter if it was the ugliest rangiest tree ever, it was my choice. It was cut down and brought in. We all tell stories about the lopsided tree that had to face the wall because someone cut off the wrong branch and half of it was missing. We could easily have picked out another but waste was never an option then.
More from Jaipi:
Why Kids Belong in the Kitchen on Christmas
Keeping Carols in Christmas with Kids
Making a “Charlie Brown” Christmas Special for Your Kids