1) Listening to Dad sing Christmas songs. Sometimes along with his reel-to-reel tapes. Other times just in the house or yard or car. In particular, I remember, "Santa Claus Is Coming to Town." Dad has a great voice (was in a barbershop quarter in college). I was sorely disappointed when I grew up and heard the song elsewhere because almost no one knows the real opening to it.
("I just got back from a long, long trip across the Milky Way . . ." Know it? Bing does, of course.)
2) Making gingerbread houses with Mom. Many a year we did one beautiful one together and displayed it on the dining table for all to see. We weren't supposed to eat the candy and ruin the beauty until after Christmas. What we kids did, then, after the front looked pretty, was plaster the back of the house with tons of random candies and then eat THOSE all December long. It kept us happy, and the front of the house still looked nice!
3) My royal blue toy typewriter that really worked. Awesome gift! I wore the ribbon into the ground. (Shocker, right?) Right up there was the printer toy I got a few years later. I loved making posters and signs.
4) Finnish pulla. To this day, the smell of cardamom is Christmas. I've carried this one on with my kids. We make pulla every year. This time it'll be extra yummy, because I brought home some cardamom from Finland, which is much stronger than the weak stuff you get in U.S. grocery stores. YUM! We're making it this weekend. If I have two brain cells functioning then, I'll take pictures and post the recipe.
5) Christmas tree hunting. I think we went two or three times is all, going with a couple of families in our ward (who were cousins living next door to one another) who owned some land. Great memories of hiking through the mountains, cutting down the tree, and then warming up with hot cocoa and singing goofy songs. (Good times, right, Blondie?)
6) REAL trees. Sometimes even flocked ones. They were always gorgeous. Mom made sure of that: sometimes it was pink and silver on a white flocked tree, other times red and gold or some other theme on a regular green one. One year the tree had a Persian theme. This is why I insisted on real trees when we got married. REAL is Christmas. Fake is NOT.
When Mom and Dad became empty nesters, they bought a fake tree. When hubby and I walked into their house and saw it, I gasped in horror. Hubby laughed and laughed. Mom and Dad had a fake one. I now had no good argument. Today we have a fake tree, and we alternate real/fake every year.
And I have to admit, the fake ones have their perks: No need to water them. You can put them up earlier without worrying about them dying. No falling needles. If you have a bare spot, just bend a branch.
But I still prefer the pine smell of the real thing. A pine-scented candle doesn't quite cut it. This year is a real tree year. Yay!
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