Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Christmas Past Visits Christmas Present

Well, as usual, the holidays have sped up and before we know it, we'll be taking down our decorations and looking back at this Christmas instead of anticipating its arrival.   A few days ago we were driving around our neighborhood looking at Christmas lights and noticed a remarkable absence of trees in windows and houses festooned with multiple strings of blinking (or non-blinking if that is your preference) lights.    I am not sure if that is a reflection of a more somber mood about the season or just a change in what the decorating fad is for this year.    All I know is that in the not too distant past you could drive down any street (in neighborhoods rich and poor) and you could count on seeing a tree in the window, proudly lit up and showing off its finery to all who passed by.  I could scarcely believe my eyes as we passed house after house that was dark and no evidence of  Christmas or any other holiday for that matter.    There were a few but even those were restrained and Clark Griswold (you Christmas Vacation fans know who you are!) would win a neighborhood decorating contest, hands down.   And it was only four days until Christmas.  

So that had me thinking about the good old days when we would beg and plead with mama and daddy to hurry and put our tree up.  This always took place after we got out of school for the holidays.   That meant that no amount of begging, pleading or nagging would entice my parents to put up a tree before December 18th.   Daddy frequently reminded us that in "his day" Santa brought the tree.   In the 1950s, not too many people put lights outside but most of us had a wreath or candy cane (fake) on the front door.    One year mama made (with Daddy's help I am sure) a cut out of Santa and a chimney made of plywood that she hand painted and then placed in our flower bed by the front door.    Most of the decorations in our home were pretty simple and often handmade.    We made paper chains of red and green construction paper at school and brought those home to drape on the tree.  We had a collection of glass ornaments for our tree that were quite delicate and some got chipped or broken nearly every year.  The lights that we used back then were most frustrating and sure to make a father pull his hair out in rage when one single bulb burning out could make the whole darn string go dark.    Finding the offending bulb was a tedious and unpleasant chore.    We had some friends who had the "bubble lights" that were long, skinny tubes that had colored liquid in them that made sparkling bubbles.   I always coveted those lights but, alas, we never had that kind.

Memories of those days are pretty dim and distant but sometimes I see something these days that helps transport me back to those happy days of childhood.    Today I saw some something that stirred a memory long buried.    As I was driving out of my neighborhood, I saw that on a house not too far from ours, someone had gotten hold of a can of spray snow.    That was one of those things that we frequently hounded mother to buy during the holidays and more often than not, she did not buy it.    It was easy to put on and really hard to get off.    The house near us had sprayed every single window pane on the front of the house, top to bottom, with a thick layer of "snow".    It was as if a blizzard had come to Pensacola last night instead of the steady stream of thundershowers that passed through.    I couldn't help but laugh thinking how tempting it was when I was a kid to make it "snow" and put the fake stuff on the windows, write Christmasy sayings like, "Ho Ho Ho" or "Joy to the World" all over our front picture window.   

And then I remembered the decorating stuff I wanted most of all back then.    It was called Glass Wax and you bought it in cans along with a set of holiday stencils and a sponge.    It was really easy to use and even  pleasant to remove since it was designed to go on glass and essentially was a cleaning aid that not only dried to a whitish finish (perfect SNOW!) but left the windows clean and shiny when you polished the stuff off when the holidays were over.    Not so with the fake spray on snow.   You could rub that stuff for days and it stayed stubbornly on whatever it touched!     I think mama probably consented to buy the Glass Wax for us maybe a time or two and I am sure that our joy knew no bounds.     Such a simple time with simple pleasures and entertainment.   

34 designs for 59 cents! 
Whatever triggers those moments that transport you back in time to simpler ways and simpler wants, please be sure to take a few minutes this holiday season to remember them with fondness.    We live in a crazy world with lots of things to frustrate us and cause us much stress and unhappiness.    Just a few minutes down Memory Lane can bring a smile to your face and can ease your troubles for a while.     May all your Christmas wishes come true and your memories take you to special times and places.   OH, and if you have a happy memory of childhood (or even of recent holidays) please leave a comment.    
Ginny, Marcia and Rebecca 1959, Christmas in Jackson, Mississippi
Blessing our Tea Party----while one of us sneaks a peek at the camera!

Happy Trails to you,



  1. Oh, my! What fun to see MY picture at the end of your entry! I have vivid memories of those Christmases and did so love spending them with you and Ginny. I was telling someone last night about the "annual play" that we put on each Christmas Eve. It consisted of 10-15 minutes of major giggling before Pawpaw would say, "GIRLS!" and the play would begin. Sweet memories!

  2. Merry Christmas to you and your family Marcia!

    From all of your friends at SEA.


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