During the past several months, my body had developed curves and I no longer looked like a little girl. Things that had once interested me now seemed babyish. I’d even started having crushes on guys. Most of these things were pleasant and exciting, but once in a while part of me wanted to go back to the easy safety of a little girl’s existence.
That year, when I heard the first Christmas carol play on the radio, I felt a sense of relief. The familiar old song was like a good friend I hadn’t heard from for a full year. I looked forward to once again experiencing the warm, comfortable traditions of childhood.
Receiving a doll every Christmas was one tradition that started before I could remember. As I listened to Bing Crosby sing, “Silver Bells”, I suddenly realized I was too old for dolls. Although I no longer played with dolls, I felt very sad. Continue reading
Even though I ran all the way to the barn from the farmhouse, my fingers, toes and nose felt frozen by the time I stepped into the warm, earthy atmosphere, slamming the door shut behind me. Clutched in my hand was a kettle from our kitchen, half filled with gristle and fat meat trimmings, bread crusts, old grease, mold cut off cheese and leftover casserole that no one had eaten.
Knowing they were about to have a feast, three cats ran to greet me. Daddy looked up from the cow he was washing. I walked towards the stairway to the haymow. The cat’s food dish was there and so were the milk cans Daddy and my brother were filling. My brother was pouring warm, foamy milk from a milker bucket into the strainer sitting on one of the milk cans.
I dumped the kitchen scraps into the food dish and three more cats appeared. Putting the empty kettle on the second step, I sat down next to it to watch the six cats eagerly eat. Hearing the squeal of a teat cup letting go, I turned to look in time to see Daddy stepping in next to a cow to take care of the problem. Having had her fill, one of the cats sat back and licked her paw.
I loved everything about the barn, especially how warm and cozy it felt during the winter. Closing my eyes, I listened as a cow lowed contentedly. A moment later, another gustily exhaled. On the far end of the barn, a calf bawled. The cow next to the steps shook her head making her big ears flap. Shifting her great weight made her hooves creak. In the background I heard our Surge pump for the milking system. It wasn’t loud, but its gentle, comforting chug-chug sound was always there during chores, just like Daddy was always there. Continue reading
I wanted to help, but I could tell my attempts I made annoyed my brother Casper. He frowned at me when I tossed a strand of tinsel over one of the balsam boughs. Both ends of the heavy, lead tinsel strands did not hang down evenly, nor were they across from each other. That would not do! The job needed to be done perfectly. Regretfully, I knew I wasn’t able, nor did I have the patience.
Plopping down onto Mom’s rocking-chair footstool, I looked around at the living room. Our beautiful Christmas tree stood in the far corner. The ornaments were evenly spaced among the branches. Now Casper, the tinsel master, was neatly…so very, very neatly hanging uniform curtains of tinsel on each branch and twig.
All morning Mom had been cleaning the house. Along with the fragrance of the balsam tree, I could smell floor polish. Mixing delightfully with these scents were the aroma of sweet, spicy things baking in the oven. I sighed with satisfaction. Everything was perfect. Mom made me a brand-new flannel nightgown to wear tonight, plus I fully expected my annual Christmas doll would be wearing a matching one! Continue reading
I looked at the calendar. A kaleidoscope of childhood memories flooded my mind. December fifth, the Eve of Saint Nicholas had meant so much to me and the children in my class during the late 1950’s. Not only did the mystery surrounding our celebrations excite us, but we looked forward to receiving candy and the satisfaction of letting Santa know what we wanted for Christmas.
Saint Nicholas visited everyone at home while we slept, but for some of my classmates, he left goodies in socks, for others, in their shoes. At my home, Saint Nicholas left our treats in a cereal bowl left on the dinner table.
Before going to bed on the fifth of December, Mom had us write a letter to Santa, detailing what we wished for. My big sisters helped me before I knew how to write. After our letters were put in an empty bowl placed where we usually sat at the table, we were sent to bed.
While we were sleeping, the Saint came by and collected the letters for Santa. Then the Holy Man would fill our dishes with a handful of peanuts in the shell, a few vanilla-chocolate drops, chocolate covered raisins and several hard candies. My favorites were the raspberry-filled and peanut butter filled ones. A big, bright orange topped off the dish. Continue reading