Christmas tea and memories by Helen DePrima and Liz Flaherty


by Liz Flaherty

I had in mind to write about something non-Christmas. That hasn’t worked out well, because I’ve been sitting here looking at a blank page for a couple of days now and nothing has come to mind. A few minutes ago, I got up to take a break and instead wrapped a couple of Christmas presents. Just now, I got up to get a cup of tea. It made me remember drinking tea at my grandparents’ house. That was where I learned about dropping a piece of peppermint candy into piping hot tea and not only enjoying the taste but the scent as well. It smelled like…Christmas. Tasted like it, too, and I can remember sitting there at the dining room table surrounded by people I loved and the clutter that comes with the holidays. Steeped in the memory and the warm scent of Earl Grey, I can feel it, too.

We’ll have Christmas Eve service at church at 10 PM. Little ones will be sleepy, their older siblings more enthralled by the Christmas Story and the candlelight than they’ll care to admit. We will all remember at one time what is for us the “reason for the season.” And we'll remember other Christmas Eves. The one when we couldn't find the wax shields for the candles. Another when we couldn't find the candles themselves. One when a guest pastor held us in that thrall I mentioned up there, telling the Story without the first note in his hands and putting us all there in that stable as certainly as if it were 2000 years ago.

I remember the year I was six, when my brother Joe bought me two Little Golden Books for Christmas. When I was older and a friend bought me Freckles. And later, when another friend gave me Trixie Belden’s latest mystery. And for years of our marriage, while there was still a local bookstore, my favorite gift from my husband would be a gift card from Walden Books.

Back to when I was a kid again, I remember when some of my gifts would be packages of loose-leaf note paper and clear-barreled BIC pens. I drove my mom nuts by wanting to do little other than read or write. My siblings just thought I was on the strange side—we didn’t use the words nerd or geek then. But they all enabled the both the reading and the writing.

I’ve written about Christmas so many times that I’ve reached a point of not knowing what to say. I’ve written about favorite gifts, songs, movies, and so on, and mostly, I must admit, about favorite memories. They are, for me, the greatest gift of the season.

Merry Christmas and Good Memories to you.
***
Oops, added at the last minute...I'm doing a giveaway on Facebook. Stop by https://www.facebook.com/authorlizflaherty/ and comment--and thanks! 




by Helen DePrima


Until I left for college, I spent every Christmas surrounded by family – my father, my grandparents, aunts and uncles and cousins. Because of the rail passes my father’s job made available, I was still able to come home for the holidays from the University of Colorado and then from the University of Rochester.

All that changed after I married. My new husband and I had moved to Denver because he hoped to gain entrance to the vet school at Colorado State University. We were living on my income as an OR nurse while he worked without pay for veterinarians in the area to gain experience with large animals and to earn good recommendations for the admissions committee. We certainly didn’t have the spare cash to fly East for Christmas.

I missed being with my family, but we made our own traditions that first year. For ten bucks, we cut a Christmas tree in the National Forest, somehow managing to tote it home on the back of our VW beetle. I still have the decorations I made from pine cones and dried flower seed pods gathered in the mountains -- no one thinks to give Christmas ornaments for wedding gifts. We splurged on one box of glass balls on sale at Woolworth’s, colors no one else wanted. Christmas gifts were bought with Gold Bond stamps we faithfully collected at the local Safeway, and my husband spent ten dollars to buy me a kitten, my good buddy for the next eighteen years.

During the last 51 years, we’ve gone on to add kids, in-laws, and assorted friends to our Christmas celebrations, but now we’re down to the two of us plus our globe-trotting daughter whose career takes her to places like China and Peru. We still go to the mountains to cut our tree, and I’ll cook a turkey for the three of us, using my mother-in-law’s good basic stuffing recipe. Who knows where next Christmas will find us, but for now, Merry Christmas!



Comments

  1. Lovely posts, ladies, and such a pleasure to read. Memories of Christmases past remind me how important the season, with family gatherings, is. We always begin our Christmas dinner with a toast to family...past and present. Merry Christmas and happy memories!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. An excellent idea, Janice. Thanks for coming by and Merry Christmas!

      Delete
    2. Merry Christmas, Janice -- thanks for joining us. Last night we enjoyed a new tradition; our daughter's best friend from high school and her three boys helped trim our massive tree, fueled by my husband's dinner of pasta and sweet potato cake. How those kids can eat. Even Colin finished his rigatoni and hung most of the ornaments while his older brothers lolled in overstuffed langour.

      Delete
  2. Today I'm remembering a very difficult delivery of our first daughter. We both came very close to not being here. But we survived and I so wanted to go home for Christmas. DH was in military and we lived in a small, rented mobile home. But it was home, and the doctor agreed we could leave the hospital on 12/25. I didn't expect a tree, but husband had bought a small silver tree about 3 feet tall and he decorated it. Under it were presents from the family. My daughter still has the tree and each year finds a corner to put it up even though she and her family have a much larger tree also. Happy holidays all.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh , Roz, what a beautiful story and priceless memory. Merry Christmas!

      Delete
    2. Roz, I've learned over the years that the crises we survive make the best memories. Thanks for sharing.

      Delete
  3. Thanks for the post from both of you--I sure remember Trixie Belden! I love it when those old books come up. That always takes me back. I once got a biography of Juliette Lowe for Christmas and I read it so many time I could recite the first page!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I remember reading about her! Girl Scouts, right? We went to--I think--her home in Savannah, but it was closed for the day.

      Delete
    2. Christmas books for me were always the latest horse stories -- Walter Farley's Black Stallion series and Marguerite Henry's Misty of Chincoteague and King of the Wind. Somehow I completely missed the Trixie Belden generation. Like Liz, I grew up on my mother's Gene Stratton Porter's novels set in Indiana. I especially loved Freckles and Girl of the Limberlost. My aunt said she always knew I'd end up working with wildlife because of that early influence.

      Delete
  4. I have memories of cousins, of my great aunt's ambrosia and my grandmother's potato cake (chocolate with divinity icing), and of my grandmother's silver chistmas tree that came with a spotlight that changed colors every minute or so. My sister was born on Dec. 29, and I remember a cousin solemnly announcing to me I was no longer the youngest cousin in the clan. Christmas!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I believe a generous supple of cousins is one of childhood's greatest benefits. I had six living next door, one very close to my age. We rode and read and celebrated together -- happy to say we still keep in touch via email, one of the blessings of the Internet.

      Delete
    2. There's a FB meme that talks about cousins being the 1st friends we have. I have some sweet memories of them, too.

      Delete
  5. Replies
    1. Welcome and Merry Christmas to you.

      Delete
    2. Thank you for coming by--Merry Christmas to you, too!

      Delete
  6. Such beautiful memories! My son is 10, so we're still building ours. I wonder what I'll remember when I look back on this phase in twenty or thirty years. <3

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Take my word, you'll see it all like kaleid0scope images of colored lights and wrapping paper, midnight toy assembly and Christmas morning smiles. And wonder how it all passed so fast. Treasure every second while your children are still yours alone.

      Delete
  7. Lots of wonderful moments that string together like the most delightful Christmas paper chain! Merry Christmas!

    ReplyDelete
  8. Loved these posts, Ladies! Sweet memories. Merry Christmas to all!

    ReplyDelete
  9. Fabulous post, Ladies. I love it because most of my favorite memories from the Christmas past are just that - memories. Where we spent Christmas, ski trips, and playing cards and games. I only remember a few gifts and mostly because there's some event tied to them. Like the year I got a juggling set (a juggling how-to book and three bean bags) and spent the entire Christmas break teaching myself how to juggle.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. What a cool gift! Are you good at it? I'm like you--there aren't all that many gifts that create the actual memory, although they might be part of it. Merry Christmas, Carol!

      Delete

Post a Comment