Sunday, December 13, 2015

Christmas people

There are certain people who enjoy the Christmas season immensely.  One of my grandmother's, my father's mother, was a Christmas person.  She lived for the season and as she aged she spent hours and hours happily making scrapbooks of Christmas cards and memorabilia, almost being a one person production shop for her family, friends, and, with special care, any child.  Christmas dinners, in those days in Bedford, Virginia, had turkeys fresh from nearby Blue Ridge mountain area farms, courtesy of my grandfather the hunter, all bread home baked, and she was in her element as a remarkable country cook for whom recipes were irrelevant.  "Santy Claus" was coming, as she frequently said.

K was a Christmas person too.  She was the absolute leader in her family of the secular Christmas ritual. All cards received, and there were many in those days, were taped around the openings of doors in her late childhood home when we first knew each other.  Poinsettias were on the two major window sills and in the lower level den near the door to the patio.  A large tree was carefully decorated in the living room with the vaulted ceiling.  All was K's doing, and nothing was garish or too much.

My in-laws were the social center of a number of families that arrived in New York under similar circumstances in the late 1940's.  They all converged on the house at Christmas every year, 25 to 30 people.  K's role was dessert.  She would spend two or three days before Christmas dinner making chocolate chip cookies, oatmeal raisin cookies, cooking various cakes, making pecan bars, brownies, and on the day before pies, apple, pecan, and even a few times used my mother's recipe for lemon chess.  It was a full time undertaking that K loved, and that at times almost overwhelmed our Christmas.  What can you expect of a Christmas person. Among that group of my in-laws close friends, her Christmas dessert spread seemed to be talked about all year long.  Each year when they left, portions of K's bounty were all packed up with them to take home.

Certainly Christmas was in my background as well.  Christmas Eve and Christmas Day were major events in childhood.  The morning when I awoke to Walter Hagen woods, golf clubs, at age 12 was the most memorable surprise.  With K and the children, setting up the tree while playing Christmas music and putting up all of the ornaments was something that was close to pure joy, but K did the lights first because that was a task a bit too tedious for yours truly.  Outdoor lighting was tried at times when the children were young, but it was not too successful.  I had to face the facts.  I like Christmas and I like choosing gifts for friends and family.  I liked the tree when it was a group effort. Clearly though, it cannot be said that I am one of that rare breed that have been referred to here as Christmas people, not even close.

K misses it dearly.


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