“Now Dasher! now, Dancer! now, Prancer and Vixen!
On, Comet! On, Cupid! on, on Donner and Blitzen!
To the top of the porch! to the top of the wall!
Now dash away! Dash away! Dash away all!”
Christmas brings about more memories than any other time of the year. We all have those special Christmases that we remember from our childhood. Most of those memories are of that perfect gift that we found under the tree or maybe it was a special gift that you purchased for a loved one. We all have our traditions that make Christmas special to our families.
However, what we may perceive to be completely normal, may seem a little strange to others who did not grow up in the same area of the world or the same time period. That is what makes these memories and traditions special, they are ours.
Today we will take a look a several of my Christmas memories from years gone by.
The Youth Christmas Program
Even in my small country church we had the traditional Children’s Christmas Program each year. At least we did up until the eight of us kids grew too old to recreate the manger scene. (We didn’t have fancy Christmas plays like they do today) Yes there was only eight of us and yes it was a nativity scene each year.
But the program required practice so the parents took turns cramming all of us into one car and driving us the five miles to practice. This went smoothly until one particular dad took his turn. Each time he drove us to the church, he would tell us a ghost story about a woman who had run her car off the country bridge and had been killed. The story went that when they recovered her body her shoes were missing. So she had been seen wandering alongside the bridge at night looking for her shoes.
The story alone is not enough to embed itself into my memory, however, on the ride home from Christmas practice, as we crossed the little bridge, this parent would put the car in neutral, rev the engine and shout that the woman was holding the car. Of course I never could see if the ghostly figure was holding the car because I was in the floorboard of the car, squealing like a little girl.
Of course the Christmas program would go off without a hitch each year, Santa would make his appearance, and each child would get a brown paper bag. I can still remember the excitement as I opened the bag to reveal an orange, an apple, sometimes a tangerine, and some red, green, and peppermint hard candies. These weren’t too bad once you got them unstuck from the fruit.
Christmas At Grandma’s
Like many families we traveled to Grandma’s house each Christmas morning. However, unlike many families we did not go for lunch or dinner. We had breakfast at Grandma’s every year. Since we lived about an hours drive from her house that meant that we would usually leave our house about 5:30 or 6:00 am every Christmas morning. That meant my brother and I would try to sneak out of bed around 3:00 am so that we would have some time to check out Santa’s treats prior to piling into the car.
Arriving at Grandma’s house for breakfast we all knew that we were in for a treat. The entire family had gathered to enjoy this traditional Christmas breakfast; fried oysters. I think I had gone away to college before I realized that everyone did not eat oysters on Christmas morning. I don’t know where the tradition started or why; but I thought everyone did it.
Making The Dough
One of my favorite oddball Christmas memories took place in grade school. I am not sure exactly what grade we were in, 2nd or 3rd, I think when we put on the Christmas program at school. Actually I am pretty sure that we did this every year but this one year stands out.
This particular year, one of the parts of the program was to recreate “Twas the Night Before Christmas” complete with Santa coming down the chimney. My role in this off broadway production was that of reciting the poem.
The production was a smash and everything went off without a hitch. My performance was flawless and there was even talk of a Tony Award. (ok maybe my memory is a little flawed) But the point is that I spent days and days practicing until I could say the ENTIRE poem without even thinking about it.
If you have ever been to school or had children that has gone to school then you know about school fundraisers. It just so happens that our school was starting a fundraiser. What good is a fundraiser without a pep talk for the troops? Nothing, so like all the other fundraisers you have ever seen we had a representative come in and tell us how to sell our products and showed us all of the cool things that we could win if we sold the most.
I know you are wondering if I have lost my train of thought, but hang in there with me. During this pep rally this enterprising sales rep announced, “Just to start things off, I will pay $20 to anyone who can recite in full the entire poem ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas,’ does anyone want to try?”
And as they say, the rest is history. I could have said it forwards, backwards, and probably in pig latin if I had needed too. That money was mine! Considering that this was 40 years ago, that was more money than I had ever seen in my life.
And if anyone has an extra $20, I can still recite it today.
What oddball Christmas memories do you have?