Of all the traditions being passed down from generation to generation, my favorites are telling stories and the exchanging of gifts. Especially at Christmastime. Families share memories of Christmases long ago, like during the 1920’s, during the Depression.
Whenever we got to sidle up next to Mom on the rare occasion she’d actually sit for a spell, she told of watching her mom walk into the kitchen one Christmas morning hiding gifts in her apron. When her mom unfurled the apron, out rolled a fresh orange for each child. Mom’s eyes lit up at the memory. “That was all you got?” I’d ask. And she’d nod and tell me how rare it was to eat a fresh, juicy orange. My husband’s mom told of receiving a brand new doll one Christmas, one she was expected to share with her baby sister. What she didn’t tell her mother was that she and her sister had already found the doll hidden in a closet days before, and had been playing wth it, and returning it to it’s hiding place so they could act surprised. We laughed together every time she retold the story.
Retelling those vivid recollections always reminded us our parents were once little children. Often, the sweet memories were mixed with sadness, as we kids got hints of just how difficult those years were, especially for our grandparents. In our case, Mom’s revelations often led to more questions, and when she got real quiet or changed the subject, we knew she had recalled all she cared to impart. Somehow, I was never satisfied, always wanting to know more. The gaps were frustrating for me, and at times, my inquisitive nature couldn’t be snuffed out quite so quickly. But I knew to let up when she got that forlorn look on her face, and took her tight-lipped, locked-up details and simply left the room, grabbing a well-used tissue from the pocket of her own ever-present apron and went in the kitchen. I didn’t follow, but could smell the chili once she lifted the lid on the delicious concoction she always made that first snowfall.
When you read my memoir, you’ll understand more about my family’s traditions, including Mom’s difficult childhood. But once she met Dad, got married and had us six kids, she seemed to be quite fulfilled establishing new traditions. For those of us prvileged to recall the many blessings of 2018, we can appreciate the legacy left to us from generations of hard working ancestors. Because of them, we are here, establishing and appreciating shared traditions. I hope you have much to be grateful for, and pass down your stories to the next generation. Or maybe even write and publish your memoirs. And pass the cookies.