"The stockings were hung by the chimney with care, in hopes that St. Nicholas soon would be there."
Well, here I am again, playing with my dolls! Their tree is my tree this year. We were so tied down with the chickens, up until the last couple of days, there wasn't much time to put up a big tree. So I cut this little cedar and made the dolls completely happy. I have a big artificial tree; who likes to put on all those stiff "limbs" and then fluff them out, only to have to take them all off and compress them into their box in a few days? I like the smell of real cedar and it always reminds me of the big tree at the church building when I was a kid.
While the children were all at school, some of the adults would gather to put up the tree and fix sacks of candy and fruit and nuts. On Christmas Eve there would be a program of singing, maybe a skit by the older boys and girls, and short poems by the little ones. We got a lot of those little poems from the Wee Wisdom and Jack and Jill magazines for children. I can remember singing "Up on the Housetop" one year, and when little Will got his 'whip that cracks', I slapped my hands together to make the snapping sound of a whip. After the entertainment, the gifts were passed around; we had drawn names earlier. Something like 25-50 cents was the limit we were to spend on the gifts. We removed the paper wrapping as carefully as possible, folded it and saved it to use the next Christmas, and we collected the icicles from off the tree to save for our own tree at home. Then as soon as everyone had had enough time to open his or her present, the sacks of candy were passed around, and oh! what a treat: a big red apple, an orange, English walnuts, and hard candy with swirled designs running all through the centers. And no one could ever forget the way the candy had sweated inside the cellophane bag, leaving sweet stickiness on the fruit and nuts. Then it was time to walk home in the cold, moonlit night, hang our stockings on the door knob, make a dash into the cold north room and snuggle down into the feather bed. I had one last question, "Does Santa bring switches to little girls?" Daddy had told us that he and his brothers got switches in their stockings.
So now I hold on to those memories and feel a little sad; what kind of memories will my grandchildren have? They have candy all through the year, fresh fruit, electronic toys, new clothes, fake trees, and bright lights. Maybe it is true, to appreciate something, you have to do without first. My dolls help me remember.