I wanted to read about my friends here and now I realize that it may be too painful for me right now. I have intentionally not come here, to my blog, to put pain on paper and then, I had a little epiphany, of sorts - it doesn't have to be pain.
This time of year is always so hard for me. I hate Christmas. It wasn't always this way. When I was a little girl my family's Christmas began at least 10 days before December 25. Mom began making cookies (frosted sugar cookies, date/nut pinwheels, Russian teacakes, windmill cookies) and all kinds of different candies. She did all this while we were in school and hid them all in the freezer until Christmas Eve.
All day on Christmas Eve, Mom prepared as much of Christmas dinner as possible without actually fixing it. The house smelled like a sugar plum factory for weeks!
Christmas Eve afternoon I would sit in front of the tree for as long as Mom would allow it before I had to prepare for the Church Christmas play. Sitting there in front of the tree, I would count and recount gifts that were from either Mon and Dad, or from my God parents, or from my aunt and uncle. There were several of us kids and if we had managed to wrap a gift for our parents, the floor was packed with gifts (even the one or two we had managed to be alone with long enough to shake and rattle - guessing its contents)
Finally, Mom would shoo me off to a bath and shared bedroom to put on my new Christmas dress for the church play. That new dress was the second NEW dress I would receive that year, other than one or two new ones for school. All of my dresses were hand made by Mom. She spend many nights sewing after the rest of us had long gone to sleep. Those dresses were so special.
Our church was 35 miles away and by the time we reached the parking lot, night had come, which lent an air of mystery and heightened expectations. Christmas was the only time our little church was not hushed with silence or slow whispers. Children were much too excited to be quiet - which in and of itself cause a cycle of excitement!
The play always consisted of the manger scene, complete with bleating lambs and the 3 wisemen. Usually, the older kids would each have lines about a religious message that they would take turns stepping forward to announce to the congregation (which was packed, even into the balcony).
After the play, each child was given a small lunch-sized papersack on his or her way out of the church. The top was twisted shut, but there was always an orange at the top of a pile of unshelled peanuts, mixed with ribbon candy and gumdrops. I loved that sack of candy - it was always the very FIRST gift of the season.
My parents took us to my grandfather's and grandmother's house directly after church. Grandpa spoke German to us, tho we usually knew what he said to us, we always answered in English. A gift from Grandpa was a handshake and Hershey chocolate bar. Grandpa was a big and tall gruff sort of guy, I was not exactly afraid of him, but always in leg-shaking awe of him and the respect and power that his mere presense could elicit.
Leaving Grandpa and Grandma behind, we hurried to the car and the ride home was in silence, only because the anticipation of opening gifts lay only 30 minutes away. No one talked, not even my parents, on the whole ride home. We all knew that Santa came to the county houses first and more gifts would be under the tree upon our arrival than had been there when we left - remember, I had counted them over and over for hours before we left the house earlier that afternoon.
Sure enough! There were many more gifts under the tree! Many more!! Of course there were 5 kids and Santa always brought 2 gifts for each of us, even the baby! The gifts were always well thought out gifts; I only realize that, now that I am grown. The year I asked for (don't laugh) GoGo boots and got brown suede mock-ups instead, I was so disappointed, however, long after the white GoGos were no longer popular, I wore mine with slacks and they looked great!
I loved those Christmases so much.
Merry Christmas, everyone. I hope you all find a measure of peace and calm this season, this year.