Thursday Thoughts…Favorite Childhood Christmas Memories

I think it’s time for some Thursday Thoughts, and today I’ve chosen to concentrate on Christmas memories from my childhood.  What else could I be thinking on this time of year?

My favorite early childhood Christmas memory is that of walking out on Christmas morning and seeing my gifts from Santa sitting beside the Christmas tree.  Usually it  was either still dark outside, or barely daylight, and everything always looked so magical when it was lit by those multi colored lights on the tree!  A doll of some kind was always waiting for me beside that tree.  Over the years,  I remember getting a “Tiny Tears” doll, a very large “3-year-old doll” (aka known as “Playpal Patti”), a beauty parlor doll (complete with chair and hair dryer on a stand), and a  “Tiny Chatty Baby” doll that talked when I pulled her string.  I still have most of these dolls.

Another favorite early memory is “The Christmas Song” by Alvin and the Chipmunks.  Whenever I was five or six, the song was really popular.  I remember that we had the record, and I played it over and over.  (If you left the arm of the record player (used to hold a stack of records in place)  pulled back, the record would automatically replay.)   I memorized every word of the song, and sang along with those crazy chipmunks!

A few years later, I remember mama buying Elvis’ Christmas album.  In my mind, I can still hear mama singing along with Elvis.  I always thought Elvis sure could sing some crazy Christmas songs, like “Santa Bring My Baby Back To Me!”

I can remember searching the entire house trying to find my hidden Christmas presents once I stopped believing in Santa, and I never did find them.  After I grew up, I asked mama where she hid them.  She told me she hid them in the large cardboard barrel that we stored our “out of season” clothes in.  (This was in the days before plastic containers.)  I wouldn’t have guessed that hiding place in a million years!

For several years, I remember going to the woods with mama and daddy to find a cedar tree to use for our Christmas tree because we couldn’t afford to buy one.  In those days, cedar trees grew wild everywhere.  Daddy would use his hand saw to cut our tree down.  We’d tie it on top of our car, take it home and put it in a large bucket of wet dirt, which we then wrapped in a white sheet  to make it look like snow around the base of the tree.  No tree stands or tree skirts for us!  Money was scarce in those days.

We’d string some lights, the ones that looked like colored nightlights,  all over the tree–and those lights would actually get very hot after they burned a while!  Next we put on what I always called “the roping”, followed by mama’s pretty shiny glass ornaments.  Last came the icicles.  We usually hung  several strands at the time–or handfuls when we got close to the end!  Those stupid icicles would be all over the house by the time Christmas was over because every time we got close to the Christmas tree, icicles would cling to our clothes!

I don’t remember having a lighted tree top while I was growing up, only a shiny, glass top that fit over the top of the tree.  It looked sort of like this photo, but ours wasn’t nearly this fancy!  Years later, after mama bought an artificial tree, she also bought a lighted tree topper.

Usually, while we were in the woods searching for a Christmas tree, we would also cut  a small piece of a hawthorn bush to use for a candy tree. We would put the thorny bush in a clay pot, then decorate the spikes of the bush with spice drops, and use it for a table centerpiece. All during Christmas, we would pull off the spice drops and eat them.  These days this is what a spice drop tree looks like…and I usually had one like this for my own children while they were growing up.

A fond memory of my adolescent years was helping to put the shiny Christmas foil on the front door of our house. In those days, people decorated their front doors with foil. It was always fun to decide what color foil to use.  Door foil came in colors of gold, silver, red, green, or blue!  It was always a challenge to get the foil on the door straight, then an even bigger challenge to make the tape stick!  After getting the door covered, we had to decide what to put on top of the paper…a wreath, a bow, or a set of bells.  Sometimes we also went around the door with colored lights and garland.

The other day, I saw a house in town with its door all covered in foil.  It brought back so many good memories!  I wonder if door foil will ever become popular again?  Things have a way of cycling around…

me, as a teenager, posing beside our front door

The picture above was taken after I’d just finished decorating the front door–during the Christmas season of 1970!  (It’s one of the few photos I have from Christmas as I was growing up.)  It’s kind of hard to see, but there’s also a wreath on top of the foil.   Now that I’m looking at that door, I can see a lot of wrinkles in that paper.  Ha!  I probably didn’t notice back then!  I had other things on my mind–being fifteen and all…Ah, those were the days!

Thanks for accompanying me on my walk down Christmas Memory Lane!  What are some of your favorite childhood Christmas memories?

Published in: on December 8, 2011 at 9:03 am  Comments (7)  

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  1. We got our tree the same way…we’d usually scout one out before the season….I think about that sometimes, cutting trees on other people’s property….I don’t think my parents thought it was wrong…it was like the trees belonged to everyone….cedars still grow prolifically here.
    We always had lots of real greenery around our door and windows….Daddy made a wooden star and wired it with lights, he hung it high on the house….we only got 3 things for Christmas and they were never wrapped so if we woke before our parents, we could go get our dolls and take them back to bed with us…
    Hows your weather? We had wintry mix yesterday and a hard frost this morning. Its in the 20s.
    Mama Bear

  2. I love the gumdrop tree…seeing that picture made me remember something similar my mom did for us. She used a styrofoam form though. I want to dig up some photos and do a Christmas post too…not sure I’ll get to it as my to-dos are loooong.

  3. I remember Alvin and the Chipmunks’ Christmas album. It like to drove my mom nuts, which of course was all the reason we kids needed to love it even more! ha! I also remember a tree topper similar to yours, and I remember the night-light-sized bulbs that got so hot. I don’t remember the door covered in foil, however.

    My favorite childhood Christmas memory was my dad taking us down to the basement after a light dinner on Christmas Eve. We kids would play until we’d hear “sleigh bells” ring … and my mom (who was upstairs – purportedly to clean up after dinner) would announce that Santa had been there. We must have really wanted to believe in Santa because looking back, that whole scenario is full of “warnings” that he wasn’t real … my dad never took us kids down to play in the basement, why would Santa come with someone still in the house where they could see him, etc., etc. ha!

  4. O I remember the same dolls and the foil. I actually think it is coming back I’ve seen two houses in my neighborhood with foil doors! I always felt guilty because I am terribly allergic to pine so we had to have this ugly white fake foil tree. My brother and sister always made sure I knew it was my fault.

  5. Those are beautiful memories. I remember my dad sawing the bottom of the tree and all the fun Christmas music.
    My dad hung the tinsel one strand at a time, it made the tree look so beautiful. He would use about 8 boxes. Then I remember the years of the metal trees with a spotlight changing it’s color.

  6. Wow, you have some really great, happy memories of your childhood Christmases!

    I grew up Jewish so we celebrated Hanukkah but there was never really anything special or traditional about it. My sister and I were always given the choice of 8 small presents or 1 large present. I’d usually ask for 8 small presents.

    As an adult I converted to Christianity and I’m enjoying staring new traditions with my children! I hope they’ll have happy memories like you have!

  7. What a nice stroll down Christmas Memory Lane. I had forgotten about the gum drop trees. I used to love to help my mama get our’s just right. I remember all the other things too. I really enjoyed playing that video and singing along with the Chipmunks. Thanks for sharing these special Christmas memories with us. Merry Christmas. 😀

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