Our memories of Christmas together go back 40 years and most are wonderful memories, a few sad, a few where a silent primal scream in the kitchen was in order.
As our daughter was born in late November, as soon as she had a voice and an idea of what a birthday was supposed to be, decorating was forbidden until the day after her birthday. Usually the outdoor wreaths would go up the day after Thanksgiving whether it was the 23rd or the 29th, but the indoor decorations were left in the boxes in the attic or storage closet (depending on the house) until the 30th.
Early on in our relationship, a Santa collection was begun and as the family grew, so did the collection as it made a great gift from the kids or from hubby. We lived in the Hampton Roads part of Virginia at the time and in the town of Portsmouth was a Nursery and greenhouse that in addition to selling Christmas trees, turned the entire property into a winter wonderland with animatronic displays of various themes, the Santa workshop, Candy factory, train displays, with one room of one building selling tree lights, ornaments, gifts, and hot cocoa. Our first Santa and his Mrs. came from Coleman’s Nursery.
Several of the more than 100 also came from there as I discovered the gnomes of Tom Clark and they became my favorites.
At some point, a tiny village was also started and occupied the mantel when the children were small and later the corner of the hutch.
Sometime in the late 1990’s, Coleman’s burned and they lost a lot of their displays, but vowed to rebuild. In 2003, we heard that Coleman’s was closing and selling off their remaining animatronics and trains and though we hadn’t been in a couple of years because it just wasn’t the same after the fire, we returned and came home with an addition to the village. Most of the Santas and village pieces are dated by me and often have either where they were purchased or who gifted them to me. One year at Coleman’s, we discovered that daughter, then maybe 4 was breaking out with chicken pox. I always wondered how many children we infected that night before we realized, she never felt ill and fortunately didn’t get too many pox, but another memory.
There were Christmases when money was tight and we struggled to make sure that the kids got at least one major gift from their list. Of course our kids were of the age to want Cabbage Patch doll or Transformers, sending us on merry chases to try to locate the gift that every other child of that age wanted that year.
One year, a small animatronic Santa with a working clock and tape player that played the Night Before Christmas Story appeared.
He always sat in our foyer at Christmas, but has been stored away for more than a decade. This year, not knowing if he even still worked, he was brought out for the resident grands and with a battery in the clock and a good dusting, he still works, including the cassette.
There were the sad Christmas times as I lost both of my parents in December, many years apart and the unwrapping of ornaments and Santas from them bring tears of love and sadness.
The memories, oh the memories. I hope my children have mostly good memories of Christmas, I do.