Christmas, to me, has always been about tradition. Now that my boys are no longer “boys” but men, I miss some of the old traditions we shared. I still bake cookies, but we no longer put out cookies and milk for Santa. We used to put out carrots for the reindeer, too. There was always a note for Santa, and Santa always left a “thank you”. I miss those days.
The recent posting of my grandparent’s house for sale on nothnagle.com brought back even more happy memories. Their house (according to the listing) is 792 square feet on 0.10 acres. Somehow, it always seemed much larger. My current house is only 1,000 square feet, and it seems small at times to me, but then I share it with three good-sized men. We used to fit 10 people in my grandparents’ livingroom. It is hard to believe, but we all fit just fine.
|Gramma’s livingroom today|
|Gramma’s livingroom “then” and a rare photo of Gramps
on the sofa instead of in the diningroom chair
Every Christmas Eve we went to my grandparents’ house. I was always told it was “because Grandpa can’t wait”. I’m not sure if that was it or not, but it was a wonderful tradition. We gathered and opened presents and shared lots of laughs and good times.
|6 of the 10 of us in Gramma’s livingroom and
Grandpa in the diningroom. From l. to r. –
Grandpa, my Dad, my Mom, Charlotte (behind the
sofa), Mary Ellen, Gramma and Wesley.
I believe David is taking the photograph.
I am not sure where Carole and I are.
There is only one “bad” memory from all those years. That was the year it was slippery, and my Dad lost control of the car when he turned to head up my grandparents’ driveway. We ended up on the neighbor’s front lawn – up on their hill of a lawn. All the houses along that stretch had hills for front yards with fairly steep driveways. The layout of the lawns made them difficult to cut the grass, and Grandpa always had sticks on his front bank to keep us kids off of it. We liked to slide down the hill on our butts, but that killed the grass. (We liked to go bumpety-bump down the upstairs stairs at Gramma’s house, too, but they didn’t like us doing that either!) That Christmas Eve we ended up on Mrs. Christian’s front lawn, I remember being scared and crying and having to climb out of the car in the deep snow. Dad and Grandpa somehow got the car off the lawn and into the driveway where it belonged. No harm was done.
Christmas Eve always meant Gramma and Grandpa and family. Christmas day we did on our own – we Fords opened gifts and saw what Santa had brought us. Later in the day, we either went to the Rigsby’s house or they came to ours, and we showed off our new gifts. Christmas Eve was Gramma’s house and gifts like matching flannel pajamas or Mary Poppins dolls and Gramma’s silver Christmas tree with the color wheel that made it change colors. Gramma also had all the cards she’d received hanging around the diningroom doorway – you can see them in the photo above.
|A tree similar to Gramma’s|
Gramma’s livingroom was a sofa, a chord organ, an armchair and the Ed Sullivan show or Mutual of Omaha’s Wild Kingdom with Marlin Perkins on the television. There was a boat (Grandpa’s boat – dubbed either the “Olive” or “Olive 2”, named after my Grandmother) in the backyard under the redwood and green corrugated plastic patio. Warm weather meant flowers in the backyard – tulips, grape hyacinths and forsythia. At one time trains ran behind the house and also were heard from the tracks through the woods across the street. We used to play in the street out front since it was a dead end at the time and didn’t have much traffic. It’s a cul-de-sac now, and the woods were torn out years ago and houses built across the street. That ruined it somehow.
|Carole, Charlotte and Donna (and those sticks on the bank)|
I remember Gramma’s cut-out cookies – they were always thicker and softer than my Mom’s. Mom made hers thinner and crispier. Gramma made great pie crust, too – also different from Mom’s. Grandpa used to sit in the diningroom all the time. He played cards at the diningroom table – I remember him teaching me how to play “War”. He played a great game of “Rummy”, and we also played “Gin”. Grandpa watched television (in the livingroom) from his chair in the diningroom or read his Westerns novels.
Yes, there were many, many happy memories made in that house. I hope that some family again makes happy memories and traditions there. It’s a nice, old house, and it needs a loving family.