I suppose the very essence of what made Christmas so special was the fact that it was celebrated for so long! Not only was the house decorated with beautifully colored lights, but the inside was decorated as well. Christmas cards either hung on the wall, or were mounted atop our Tv or console stereo depending on just how many we received that year. Candy dishes were filled with hard candies. The tree was put up and festooned to the hilt with an array of bulbs, lights, and ornaments . It wasn't just about getting lots of toys; it was about families getting together. Christmas albums were played on the stereo night and day. Activity on blackened night streets was abundant. People were out Christmas shopping , putting up their lights, or just out and about. It was like a dead world suddenly came to life on December 1st.
Each year that Christmas rolls around I can't help but think of all the years gone by, and how much I looked forward to this season. It wasn't about just getting a lot of toys, but it was more about the general feeling; that feeling still resides in me today. One of my favorite memories is of the old wrapping paper. I loved the ribbons, bows, and all the different colors and designs. It was especially fun to wrap the presents, wondering about how mom, dad, or one of my brothers would react when they opened it. The old Christmas tags that went on the presents were equally wonderful.
Have Yourself a Dickens Little Christmas!
Christmas cards were way more fun than they are now; they were full of life, and wonderfully painted. I always loved the glitter cards, and the cards that depicted Victorian London street scenes. For some reason, those really seem to stand out in my memories of the holiday.
One of my favorite Christmas memories is that of 1962; we received so many Christmas cards, many of them depicting the old street scenes where shoppers were out and about. The scenes weren't so far-fetched that they were unbelievable; many of our neighbors would be out, either putting up lights, or returning home from shopping trips, or even bringing home the family tree. It's funny, but even back then I think we all loved the old christmas street, or country scenes, such as the Currier & Ives paintings. I think we secretly longed for a time that was simpler and filled with joy. My life as a kid then was not complicated, but the images portrayed in these cards were as carefree as anything I could imagine.
Let it Snow!
Out on the streets when the snow came, we played for hours, only going in long enough to thaw out our fingers and toes. Mom had a hot lunch ready. Christmas joy was everywhere! From building snowmen and snow forts, to sliding around on the slick roads, we did it all and made the most out of what we had.
Epic snowball fights and games of army were very popular on my block. What I especially loved was the late afternoon and evenings when snow covered the ground; the night sky wasn't really black, but a darker gray and with twinges of blue. Inside, in the warmth of the house, accompanied by the smell of ham cooking, the clamor of dishes and busy work in the kitchen told that supper was just about ready. Looking out of our picture window I could see house lights reflecting their colors on the white snow.
I really miss the old Christmas cards we used to get; they were absolutely joyful, and depicted wonderful snow scenes of sleigh rides, old small town Christmas themes, Victorian London scenes, and were altogether bright and wonderful.
I loved watching mom decorate our own Christmas tree; she used tinsel, ornaments and even put some candy canes on the branches. Of course we boys snatched those canes whenever she wasn't looking, but they somehow magically reappeared soon after.
The old candy dish with the hard Christmas candy in it was something that was always in the house - usually near the tree. even from another room Mom could somehow hear our fingers digging around in the dish. It always seemed that my favorite flavor (wild cherry) either stuck to another piece, or was at the bottom of the dish somewhere.
Those days were great when our family Christmas shopping was well underway. I loved riding in the backseat of our car while mom and day yakked away. The song "Do You Hear What I Hear" played on the radio with the usual lineup of festive songs. Myriad Christmas lights lined rooftops, buildings, stores even shrubbery as we rolled past. People were out; they seemed happy, and life was exciting. I had one desperate wish list toy: The Mattel Tommyburst machine gun. As we all separated to do our individual shopping, I secretly hoped mom and dad were buying it for me.
Just being out on the city streets at night when it snowed was incredible! All the store lights reflected in the snow, and seeing more people than usual out and about made the whole season so exciting.