She gently placed the needle of the arm of the 1960s record player on to the 33 vinyl record of Dennis day and Jack Benny crooning the likes of “Hark the Herald Angels Sing” and “O Little Town of Bethlehem”.
The steady subtle cracking accompanied each each song… a simple familiar normal of the 70s era. It was a beautiful normal.
My grandma settled into grandpa’s gold patterned, corner rocker after she finished the nightly Christmas week routine of plugging in the multicolored lights that lit up the vintage teardrop ornaments, along with the traditional silver tinsel and gold garland of the era.
The multicolored lights hung perfectly by my grandma’s silhouette in the dark of the evening, just outside the living room, shining beautifully as they danced in all their colours on the freshly fallen snow.
It was a magical time in my child’s heart… compared to nothing else.
My sleepover bed was made with so much love always by my grandma on the living room mattress, covered end-to-end with her always fresh smelling floral bedding from her special hall closet where all Grandma’s treasures came from.
She lovingly and securely tucked my young self in to the ever so soft, grandma’s house aroma bedding.
The farmhouse living room was shrouded in the darkness of the evening except for the sparkle of the christmas tree lights and those dancing there colours on the freshly fallen snow just outside the living room window.
My grandma’s grand Christmas cactus was filled with beautiful pink blooms to the point of hanging low… A testament to her loving care.
My grandma mischievously hinted in the direction of the tree, alluding that the perfectly and immaculately wrapped silver and gold presents could be mine. 2…3…5! 5 presents!! My young heart could hardly contain my excitement.
Some big, some small, but one stood stoically tucked in the back of the tree, safely under the boughs of the beautifully decorated tree.
Could it be??
Could it possibly be the coveted long-haired Crissy doll I had wanted for so long from the iconic Eaton’s department store in the big city just an hour down the road?
I could only dream.
Soon after, the subtle hints of Christmas gifts gave way to my grandma rocking gently back and forth, looking off into the distance as she went back in time, telling of Christmas Eve in her youth, and of the magic that happened in their own home with everyone playing instruments, from the fiddles to the banjos, echoing through the home with their favourite traditional Christmas songs.
She stared off in the moment as if she was reliving it all over again.
Her stories took on their own magic as my little sleepy eyes got heavier and heavier, drifting off with magical memories of Christmas past… The sixties record player still crooning Jack Benny and Doris Day… “Oh Holy Night”.
Morning would usher in my most favourite day of the year, then as a child and still many decades later.
Christmas Eve had finally arrived.
The day was filled with much excitement as the traditions of “Peppernuts”, traditional shortbread cookies and my mom’s famous fruitcake, along with many other baked goodies graced a large beautiful cookie platter, arranged with much love and care always.
The sounds of the “Ray Connick singers” and “Harry Belafonte” crooned happily from Mom and Dad’s record player in the large country living room.
Red and white stockings, Handmade by mom, hung from the real brick fireplace for us to enjoy as we drifted off to sleep in our blankets we had dragged from our beds.
Our whole small family… nestled by the warm crackling fire my dad had stoked just before we fell into our dreams of Christmas.
We drifted off to the sparkles of the tree my mom always decorated with homemade decorations. Turquoise satin blue round baubles with sparkling jewels. Each of our first letters of each of our names spelled out.
My decoration with my letter now lives in my Christmas tree many decades later.
The time had arrived for the Christmas Candlelight concert in our small farming town small Church.
Christmas carols the likes of “We light a Thousand Candles bright” and of course the ever wonderful “The star”, rang through the walls of the small country Church.
I sat mesmerised, sitting securely beside my mom and dad and grandma and grandpa in the hard church bench, dressed in my cherry red Christmas dress my mom had lovingly sewn as she did every year.
“For unto us a child is born”… the Christmas story from the book of Luke took center stage as the choir sang their last song of the night.
And just before our moms and dads took us little children home for Christmas Eve, the “tutjes” (little brown paper bags) filled with oranges peanuts, a candy cane, a few hard red, white and green striped candies and of course a chocolate or two arrived from the church.
The hustle and bustle of the little children clamoring for their “tutjes” was quite a sight to see and a highlight for my young self. I clutched my little brown bag close to my heart as I stomped alongside my mom and dad through the deep snow that had fallen, with my favourite boots that year, filling with cold fresh snow with every step.
But I did not care.
I was off to grandma’s and Grandpa’s…. and it was Christmas Eve.
My dad’s 66 “Merc”, Malibu blue in colour, pointed down the snow packed gravel road heading to the most magical night of my young life.
As my dad’s “Merc” rounded the curve of the farm’s long driveway, visions of years past of “pluma mouse” (cold fruit soup), nice cold Mandarin oranges from grandpa’s cold cellar, peanuts, hard striped candy, chocolate, ripple chips with French onion dip, and Mountain Dew in green vintage glasses accompanied my Christmas favourite… “halva”… a Christmas staple on Grandpa and Grandma’s Christmas table.
All was set around candle light in the small farmhouse kitchen…. I’m “there” as I write this.
Finally, grandma’s perfectly wrapped gifts made their way into my arms.
The carollers dressed in their winter parkas and snow boots, singing their traditional standards just out the front living room window in the glow of grandpa’s multicolored lights, were a beautiful sight and sound to my little eyes and ears. But the corners of grandmas beautifully wrapped presents were calling my name louder and louder as my fingers anxiously pulled on it.
A beautiful pink ceramic jewellery box, made lovingly by my grandma, contained the most beautiful delicate gold necklace with a floating heart as was popular that year.
As I opened my gifts eagerly one by one I finally came to the coveted large beautifully wrapped present standing quietly in the back of the magical Christmas tree, stoically waiting for my little fingers to open it.
I could only hope.
My little pudgy fingers worked quickly as I peeled back the layers of beautiful wrapping.
And there it was.
The long-haired Crissy doll my heart had yearned for all year! My young heart could hardly be contained.
Another Christmas Eve had come and had fulfilled all my little heart’s desires…. It was perfect.
Now, many decades later, my growing family of 17, children and grandchildren, experience pieces of these wonderful childhood memories.
The colourful lights, some vintage decorations that graced my mom and my Grandma and Grandpa’s tree so many decades ago, the peanuts, oranges, candy and my mom’s favourite fruit cake. Shortbread, cherry topped, halva… and much more.
And of course the best of all…. just being together with all those that I loved so dearly. That really was the greatest gift of all… then and now.
Grandma cookie making and decorating with the littles and of course the sounds of the season with the likes of Ray Conniff, Doris Day and Jack Benny, croon late into the night after all are fast asleep as the musical tastes have changed through the decades for my family from a different era.
The small farmhouse table in the farmhouse kitchen has been replaced with a 15 foot handmade Harvest wooden table, filled end-to-end with my precious family in the year 2020.
Many beautiful people of those childhood memories have celebrated many Christmases in heaven by now.
I miss them dearly.
Yet I look forward to the day I can celebrate the Christmas of all Christmases together with them in that forever home prepared for us by our loving God and his Son.
“For unto us a child is born…” the hope of all eternity….
The HOPE for all eternity💖