Originally Published: December 25, 2016 6 a.m.
Life was simpler when Frosty came to life, the Grinch’s heart grew, Rudolph showed off his nose and Herbie wanted to be a dentist.
It was nice when all I needed to worry about was whether Dad found the cherry “clear toy” lollipops. I liked the lemon, but adored cherry. He always made sure stockings had clear pops in them. They were shaped like toys and animals and were only found around the holidays back home.
Lifesavers in a special Christmas “book” were always present, too.
I miss Dad’s traditions more than I expected to. Christmas to him meant chocolate drops in glass candy dishes, clear toy pops, Mom’s fudge and everyone convening at the house on Christmas Eve for a buffet dinner.
He was always very clear what that dinner should include: Ham, scalloped potatoes and green beans. My Mom’s touches included grape jelly crockpot meatballs, a weird nut log thing I never touched and mountains of cookies. I can still taste the crackers and cheese spread she always put out, too. It was Port Wine cheese and rye crackers.
As family trickled in, the kitchen and living room would fill up with about 18 to 20 folks and start to get very warm.
I always preferred sitting with the adults over the kids, so I’d hang out at the big kitchen table with them while the other little people were playing games and watching Christmas movies on TV.
Disagreements over the last year were put away, no one gave anyone a hard time over past failures or transgressions. My Dad considered it bad form to talk ill of anyone around the holidays.
I think because he grew up during the hard economic times of the 1930s and was an adult during the rationing of WWII, he wanted his children to have an over-the-top Christmas. Each year, we’d get one “big” gift from the parents and five or six smaller ones. The big gift would be a bike, a sled, a kitchen set for our dolls, a stereo as we got older … things like that.
My 18th year, it was a cedar hope chest. Dad made it himself over six months and all that time, kept it a secret from me in his workshop. I still have it, along with the amazing rocking horse he made my daughter for her first year.
My Mom was the practical gift giver. Every year there would be packages of socks. Seriously. Blue, black or brown. The colors rotated between the three of us girls still at home. It was a running joke (to us, not her!).
Anyway, as I share these simple memories of Christmas in Maryland, I wish for all our readers peace and joy this Christmas Day.