December 06, 2009

Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories

December 5 - Outdoor Decorations
Did people in your neighborhood decorate with lights? Did some people really go “all out” when decorating? Any stories involving your ancestors and decorations?

No one in my family or my neighbohood ever did anything more than outline windows with colored lights. At my own house, the only lights were on the tree, except the 2 years we ran a long indoor/outdoor string of mini lights around the back garden fence.

December 6 - Santa Claus
Did you ever send a letter to Santa? Did you ever visit Santa and “make a list?” Do you still believe in Santa Claus?

Letters to Santa weren't a huge thing with us. I believe, when I was first learning to write - so, Grades K-3 - I did write to Santa and entrust the letters to my parents to mail. My own kids also wrote letters to Santa, but not every year, and for only a few years. In the early '80s, I discovered JRR Tolkien's "Father Christmas Letters", which I borrowed every year from the library and read to the kids if they would sit still for it. The (mis)adventures of the North Polar Bear and the Red Elves gav me giggles every year!

We had no fireplace, no chimney, so we left one window open for Santa to come in. I was 8 when I learned there was no Santa. I woke up during the night and, since I could see down the hall from my bed, I saw my parents carring boxes and presents from their bedroom to the living room. That was my lightbulb moment, but I didn't spoil it for my younger brothers until the next year.

My kids believed in Santa till they were about the same age, because of the ashy boot-prints on the hearth, and they left him cookies and milk faithfully. One year, Daughter's pre-school sent home Reindeer Food in a baggie (rolled oats mixed with glitter) with instructions to strew it on the lawn to attract Santa's reindeer. (It worked.)

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