by Cindy Risher | January 8, 2018 8:44 am
Last Updated: January 8, 2018 at 8:46 am
The holiday season has come and gone, but it always brings back memories of growing up. For older folks like myself, these memories were often prompted by old black-and-white photos of family members that resurfaced each year in the form of old photo albums.
These albums were drug out at Christmas time when all the relatives came over for the big family Christmas dinner on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day.
Usually, the Christmas Eve gathering was hosted by the paternal side of the family and the Christmas Day feast was hosted by the maternal side of the family.
For us, that meant Christmas Eve at grandma and grandpa’s house. My dad’s parents were immigrants from Hungary; my grandma was the best cook ever, while grandpa was my hero. In my mind, I can still see and smell grandma’s delicious stuffed cabbages and her fabulous baked rhubarb and cherry pies, poppy seed rolls and baklava.
I can clearly see and smell grandpa’s fragrant pipe smoke and spectacular garden that contained the freshest and best tasting vegetables anywhere on earth. He had the greenest thumb on the planet.
After cleaning up from supper, we would each get one present. Since there were seven of us kids, the gifts were small but we never knew it, and we didn’t care anyway because we were at grandma and grandpa’s house.
That was all that mattered.
Christmas Day dinner was usually hosted at my parents’ house. My dad made the best chicken and dumplings north of the Mason-Dixon Line. They aren’t anything like southern dumplings. They are more like Hungarian Chicken Paprikash Dumplings.
But growing up, they were called chicken and dumplings in my house, so imagine my surprise when, later in life, I discovered that southern chicken and dumplings were about synonymous with Cracker Barrel chicken and dumplings.
Don’t get me wrong, I love southern chicken and dumplings but they really aren’t chicken and dumplings to my way of thinking. They are chicken and extra wide, extra thick noodles but … I digress.
In between these yearly feasts was sandwiched the visit from Santa Claus. With seven kids, two dogs, a few cats and about 100 African Violet plants, Christmas morning was always more than a tad bit hectic.
The Christmas stockings were always the biggest treat. Mom always had a giant stocking filled to the brim with all sorts of goodies that were collected during the year and bought from paper route tips that we earned. Mom was a stay-at-home-mom and she more than deserved the extra recognition at Christmas. Each of us kids generally got two or three gifts. I remember spending countless hours looking through the Sears and Roebuck catalogs and circling special items I wanted and then laying the catalog open to my favorite page to make sure Mom and Dad saw my heart’s desire.
Usually, our gifts included one much needed item of clothing and the other one or two items were generally whatever the current fad gift was for the year. I remember my favorite item of clothing one year when I was probably 4 or 5 years old was a tan pair of pedal pushers.
I guess they made me feel stylish because they were brand new. A few other items stick out, like a bike with training wheels, roller skates with that special key, a Chatty Cathy, paper Barbie doll dress up books, jacks, new chalk for HopScotch, a diary with a key, hot wheel cars. Precious memories.
Simpler times. No electronics. Worked for me.
So, this year for Christmas was a simpler, electronic-free Christmas for my older grandkids. They each received a couple of much needed items of clothing and some updated old-fashioned type gifts that included special craft paper, an awesome collection of paints and a variety of brushes.
I am certain my Valentine’s Day cards from them this year will be priceless.
Happy New Year, y’all. Sincerely, Cindy