Tuesday, December 24, 2013
Christmas Memories, Pt. 2
Christmas day was always wonderful, but the anticipation of the night before was even more magical. Of course, there would be lots of photos taken, and my grandmother was typically on hand as well. The highlight of Christmas Eve was the reading of "The Night Before Christmas." At the feet of my brothers is the book that was brought out annually for the traditional reading.
Many years later, when I saw the same distinctive edition illustrated by Leonard Weisgard, I was overcome with a wave of nostalgia and immediately bought it (not sure what happened to the copy that my mom had).
Here's one of mom reading us Clement Moore's famous story:
There were stockings to be hung; my brother Jim's had been knitted by a family friend. Eventually, all three of us would have our own.
Zooming in, you can see the vintage reel-to-reel tape recorder that my dad had set-up to capture a few unscripted "kids say the darndest things" moments.
Here, my dad is attempting to explain to my brothers about my impending birth. I think they were more excited about the presents under the tree.
Naturally, my brothers were very angelic the night before the gift distribution occurred; the threat of coal in the stockings was very real from my parents!
Most of the presents were put out the night before, and all three of us would attempt to guess what was inside the wrapped boxes. There were a few gifts that magically appeared after we went to bed; those were the REALLY special ones...the ones that Santa would leave. Perhaps Bobo the Clown was one of those; I'm sure the wagon and scooter were.
My brothers were still looking angelic the next morning, sporting matching Santa outfits. Another tradition was that each person would take turns playing Santa and handing out the gifts. Mom was pretty careful to make sure that there were an equal amount for all under the tree.
My brother's reaction to the phonograph would be typical of what little kids today would have; what the heck is that contraption?!?
Once the unwrapping began, things got a little crazier. You could see wrapping paper and ribbon for days!
Most of the gifts were hits, especially these toy automobile dashboards.
Wow...my brothers were the envy of the neighborhood with these!
Just look at those delighted faces!
These teddy bears were a big success, too; have you ever seen another bear get so much lovin'?
And then there were the gifts that didn't go over so well. Take a look at the pitiful expression on my brother's face.
A few years after we moved back east, the family traveled back to San Diego to spend Christmas with my grandmother. Despite the plane trip, the stockings and other annual traditions were upheld. Note the plate of cookies for Santa with the accompanying note. I still remember the wonderment I felt when I noticed that there ashes from the fireplace on the carpet. Santa must have found us!
One of my favorite gifts was the matching Winnie the Pooh and Piglet set. They were a wonderful souvenir from my very first trip to Disneyland just a few days before!
Don't forget to put out your plate of cookies tonight!
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