The blonde-haired Myra, a doll that could walk.
Collecting hickory nuts in the woods for Mom’s jam cake. (The rock-hard nuts got cracked with a hammer and the meat picked out with a hair pin; it was a lot of work for a cup of near microscopic pieces.)
Boiled Christmas custard and peanut butter rolls.
The hollow where mistletoe grew high in the trees and had to be shot out with a rifle and gathered in pieces.
Treat bags at church filled with nuts and apples and peppermint canes.
The lonely sound of the coal train whistle late at night from the other side of the mountain.
The homemade wooden sled used to transport the prickly tree from the woods to the house.
Playing the chipmunks’ Christmas song on the new blue and white record player that was later stored in a shed and devoured by rats.
Drawing names and playing games.
Santa Claus and the elves and the flying reindeer.
The way darkness fell fast, but the moon took a long time coming all the way up and over the mountain.
I was sitting at my desk working a few nights ago when the moon suddenly appeared through the bare trees. One thought led to another and another and I remembered growing up in the hills and listening to Christmas music on late-night radio. The music came from faraway places — Chicago, Fort Wayne, Cincinnati — from stations we could only get late at night once the locals went off the air. I sang along with “city sidewalks, busy sidewalks dressed in holiday style”…and dreamed of Christmastime in the city.
I do love the special excitement of the city at Christmas, but I also have great country memories to hang onto as well. Our life experiences, especially the ones we share with others, are truly the best gifts.
What are your holiday memories?