Non-food Holiday Memories

Sand_TIger
Sand_TIger Posts: 859 Member
edited December 2020 in Chit-Chat
So many of my fond memories of the holiday season revolve around making or eating food so I thought it would be nice if we shared happy memories that DIDN'T. Maybe we'll even get ideas of fun things to do by reading them!

I'll go first.

When I was little I anticipated Christmas so much. We were pretty poor ourselves and had a lot of homemade fun. Christmas might have been kind of lean but I always enjoyed it. I loved picking out the perfect presents for people, making my own cards and sometimes my own gift wrap.

I wear glasses and everything is a blur when I take them off, so I'd lie in my bedroom trying to go to sleep, looking at the lit up tree through the partially closed bedroom door. The colors were so beautiful and I had this wonderful feeling of happy anticipation The big, old fashioned ceramic coated incandescent bulbs (the kind that got hot) that hung on our little fresh-cut fir tree would merge into colorful blurs.

Another memory, which does involve food though not for me, is of sneaking over to a neighbor's house to drop off a holiday meal and a box of oranges. All three of us, myself, my mom, and my blind father with his cane, crept across the trailer park with our stuff to leave it at their door. I sat up on my high bunk bed, looking out the back window of the trailer to announce when they found the trove.

One final one - when I was really young, 5 or 6 years old, we lived in a cabin in the backwoods of Idaho. Trips to town were difficult and a Big Thing. We didn't have very many drinking glasses at the time so we decided that's what my mom needed for Christmas. So my dad and I separated from my mom during one shopping trip and went to a nearby store to find glasses. We found four nice looking ones, hid them for the ride home, and when we got back I helped my dad build a shelf for her to put them on. I think those four glasses, which cost maybe $5 total, meant more than any of the fancy stuff I get for them now.

(Now it's your turn. I'd love to hear about any wintry but warm memories!)
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Replies

  • cwolfman13
    cwolfman13 Posts: 40,986 Member
    Holiday food memories aren't really a thing for me...I didn't really get into the food aspect of holidays until I was much older...like in my 20s...as a kid, sitting around the table with a bunch of old people taking up a bunch of time eating what I considered to be pretty gross stuff was just boring and I couldn't wait to be dismissed from the table. Thanksgiving was the worst as a kid...I just didn't get it...a whole holiday with nothing going on except eating. The only positive was getting off two days of school...that, and we always started decorating that weekend for Christmas.

    Most of my childhood holiday memories revolve around getting and decorating the tree the weekend of Thanksgiving...going Christmas caroling through neighborhoods with our church group, and the like. Christmas Eve was always a bigger deal in my family than Christmas day and we'd usually go to my grandma and grandpa's house to meet up with aunts, uncles, cousins, etc for a Christmas Eve celebration. Lots of Christmas music, dancing, fruit punch and eggnog, and us kids were able to open our presents. We would stay the night and wake up to our Christmas stockings in the morning.

  • Sand_TIger
    Sand_TIger Posts: 859 Member
    I love hearing about St Nicholas Day, Veggiepat! And thank you for sharing your memories, Cwolfman!

    Another thing we used to do is drive around to look at lights - or sometimes walk if there was a place to do it. It didn't snow very often in most of the places I lived as a kid, but when it did I had special fun. There is a special kind of quiet when you stand outside after snow is just fallen and under the moonlight (or street lights) it looks like everything is sprinkled with diamonds.
  • veggiepat
    veggiepat Posts: 127 Member
    Thank you for sharing your memories, Cwolfman. Love the Christmas music and dancing! Love to dance! And, yes, Tiger, we used to drive around to look at lights too! Then after all of us got out of the station wagon (like the Brady Bunch, lol) Mom would make us hot chocolate with marshmallows and us girls would sing funny Christmas songs and laugh ourselves silly. It was wonderful!

    Thank you so much for starting this thread Tiger. Love sharing the memories!!
  • chuckle_bunny
    chuckle_bunny Posts: 496 Member
    There is a photo of me as a kid cutting down a Christmas tree, which, btw, is something my ethics do not align with now that I'm in adulthood. I had this cheesy grin on my face, a hacksaw in hand, and my maroon hoodie looked way too small on me because I put the hood on, which makes the sweater scrunch up. Sleeves were almost up to my forearms and my shirt underneath was sticking out so much it looked like a dress. Hilarious.

    When I see that picture though I think of all my hopes and dreams and wonder where they all went. Ever see a picture of yourself as a kid and it's almost as if that person was never you? Hmm. Anyway, that's one of three pictures of myself that I can tolerate. Every time I visit my parents I try to swipe a few pictures that I'm in out of the family photo albums to set flame to later. I don't want to leave behind any traces of myself on this planet. Happy Holidays.
  • KickassAmazon76
    KickassAmazon76 Posts: 4,085 Member
    My mom is severely hearing impaired. She lost most of her hearing when she was 5 years old, but oh how she loved listening to music, and singing along. We always joked that if she was on key, it was a mistake.

    Many of my memories involve setting up the Christmas tree, and mom putting on her favorite Mario Lanza, and Bing Crosby records, and singing along at the top of her lungs - utterly and blissfully off key. Through the years, she added Carol Baker and Anne Murray to the list of brutalized songs - all of which are near and dear to my heart now.

    I've added all of her old favorites to a special spotify playlist, and when I need that Christmas nostalgia, I'll turn it on and sing along. (Sometimes even going off key).

    My mom is still with us, but through all these years, she still sings off key and still maintains that when she dies and goes to heaven, she's going to be getting the lead role in the choir - with the voice of an angel.
  • ReenieHJ
    ReenieHJ Posts: 9,708 Member
    There is a photo of me as a kid cutting down a Christmas tree, which, btw, is something my ethics do not align with now that I'm in adulthood. I had this cheesy grin on my face, a hacksaw in hand, and my maroon hoodie looked way too small on me because I put the hood on, which makes the sweater scrunch up. Sleeves were almost up to my forearms and my shirt underneath was sticking out so much it looked like a dress. Hilarious.

    When I see that picture though I think of all my hopes and dreams and wonder where they all went. Ever see a picture of yourself as a kid and it's almost as if that person was never you? Hmm. Anyway, that's one of three pictures of myself that I can tolerate. Every time I visit my parents I try to swipe a few pictures that I'm in out of the family photo albums to set flame to later. I don't want to leave behind any traces of myself on this planet. Happy Holidays.

    I find the fact that you want to erase all traces of yourself from this planet, very sad. :( Every single one of us is an important part of the whole world. I wish you cared about yourself a whole bunch more than you appear to. :(
    Obviously I don't know you, but you are one poster that makes me laugh a lot. Whether you know it or not, you have many many gifts left to offer the world.
  • chuckle_bunny
    chuckle_bunny Posts: 496 Member
    ReenieHJ wrote: »
    There is a photo of me as a kid cutting down a Christmas tree, which, btw, is something my ethics do not align with now that I'm in adulthood. I had this cheesy grin on my face, a hacksaw in hand, and my maroon hoodie looked way too small on me because I put the hood on, which makes the sweater scrunch up. Sleeves were almost up to my forearms and my shirt underneath was sticking out so much it looked like a dress. Hilarious.

    When I see that picture though I think of all my hopes and dreams and wonder where they all went. Ever see a picture of yourself as a kid and it's almost as if that person was never you? Hmm. Anyway, that's one of three pictures of myself that I can tolerate. Every time I visit my parents I try to swipe a few pictures that I'm in out of the family photo albums to set flame to later. I don't want to leave behind any traces of myself on this planet. Happy Holidays.

    I find the fact that you want to erase all traces of yourself from this planet, very sad. :( Every single one of us is an important part of the whole world. I wish you cared about yourself a whole bunch more than you appear to. :(
    Obviously I don't know you, but you are one poster that makes me laugh a lot. Whether you know it or not, you have many many gifts left to offer the world.
    Old family photos just make me really sad. 😕

    Who's gonna hold on to them after we die? What if the next generation isn't into that? I'm not sure I'll even have children so there's that.

    A few years ago I found some old family photos scattered in a parking lot and I tried my hardest to get them back to the owner. It made me depressed to see how easily lost or discarded a piece of family history can become. I just try to be happy today. I feel like I have control over that. If I start thinking about what will happen to my childhood photos after I die, I start feeling awful.
  • CacoEther
    CacoEther Posts: 2,465 Member
    ReenieHJ wrote: »
    There is a photo of me as a kid cutting down a Christmas tree, which, btw, is something my ethics do not align with now that I'm in adulthood. I had this cheesy grin on my face, a hacksaw in hand, and my maroon hoodie looked way too small on me because I put the hood on, which makes the sweater scrunch up. Sleeves were almost up to my forearms and my shirt underneath was sticking out so much it looked like a dress. Hilarious.

    When I see that picture though I think of all my hopes and dreams and wonder where they all went. Ever see a picture of yourself as a kid and it's almost as if that person was never you? Hmm. Anyway, that's one of three pictures of myself that I can tolerate. Every time I visit my parents I try to swipe a few pictures that I'm in out of the family photo albums to set flame to later. I don't want to leave behind any traces of myself on this planet. Happy Holidays.

    I find the fact that you want to erase all traces of yourself from this planet, very sad. :( Every single one of us is an important part of the whole world. I wish you cared about yourself a whole bunch more than you appear to. :(
    Obviously I don't know you, but you are one poster that makes me laugh a lot. Whether you know it or not, you have many many gifts left to offer the world.
    Old family photos just make me really sad. 😕

    Who's gonna hold on to them after we die? What if the next generation isn't into that? I'm not sure I'll even have children so there's that.

    A few years ago I found some old family photos scattered in a parking lot and I tried my hardest to get them back to the owner. It made me depressed to see how easily lost or discarded a piece of family history can become. I just try to be happy today. I feel like I have control over that. If I start thinking about what will happen to my childhood photos after I die, I start feeling awful.

    I can relate to that feeling. When I lost all mine in a fire, it was honestly a relief in a way
  • Sand_TIger
    Sand_TIger Posts: 859 Member
    It's a funny thing about history - if a picture is old enough, it takes on a new significance even to people who aren't related. I won't have kids either (I'm 41, I pretty much know this) and I don't have siblings so I pretty much won't have a legacy. My spouse is also an only child. I think that's why I write books and stories, and make art on occasion, so that perhaps I can give the world a little beauty or at least something interesting. When I get older I may start working with Big Brothers/Big Sisters or some similar organization, or maybe volunteering some place cool like the Japanese Garden. That way hopefully I'll at least be remembered well. :)
  • beagletracks
    beagletracks Posts: 5,988 Member
    My strongest memories are my dad driving my brother and sister and me 250 miles to my grandmother’s house in California. Just being in the back seat, memorizing the scenery and struggling to stay awake to savor every moment of the precious visit with family who, though quite reserved emotionally, expressed and felt love for us in ways my mother never has been able to.

    Those roads are indelibly imprinted on my brain and I love long drives to this day.
  • ReenieHJ
    ReenieHJ Posts: 9,708 Member
    When I was a young teen, I loved having pen pals. There was 1 in particular that was especially important to me and I always remember receiving packages in the mail at Christmas time from her. Such a thrill to get packages when you're a kid. :)

    Trying to think but most of my holiday memories seem centered around baking, decorating cookies with my mom, and the meals. :neutral: My dad always helped by peeling potatoes and handling the turkey with the huge roasting pan. My mom never just made turkey; she had to make tons of stuff she knew everybody liked, along with homemade fruit cup. There was always a mince pie too, even though not sure who actually ate any. :)

    I do wish I had kept more of the family ornaments. :( I have 3 or 4 of the old kind. Our tree always started out with those silver strands of icicles placed just so, after 5-10 minutes we simply threw them at the tree. :) And we all knew not to talk before all the lights went on because well, you know, lights and adults don't always get along. :)

    Just remember lots of helping hands, tasting in the kitchen, opening presents, the younger ones being all excited...happy times with the whole family. My parents' house was always the center of family times, the hub bub where it all happened.
  • Sand_TIger
    Sand_TIger Posts: 859 Member
    edited December 2020
    I love the story about decorating a fan - that charms me. It sounds like you made your own fun despite what anyone said and I like that, Yoshi! I am thinking about stringing lights on my easel just for fun. :)

    A_Chuisle, I think some of my best memories involve anticipating events to come. Like those cold winter nights in my bedroom looking at the lights.

    ReenieHJ, I think my mom has a lot of the old ornaments - one of her favorites is this little glass heart she bought my dad probably thirty years ago. Those two are such an odd match, but somehow they work. I had fun making a lot of our ornaments as a kid - like paper chains and stuff cut from old christmas cards. My favorites were the glass ones. The small artificial tree I have now is decorated with origami cranes made of shiny paper with a bird sitting on top.
  • KickassAmazon76
    KickassAmazon76 Posts: 4,085 Member
    @ReenieHJ the comment about the lights reminded me of how the first tree I remembered was a green stick with a pile of pre drilled holes, and each branch was color coded. My dad would spend forever trying to figure out which one went in which hole (because the color coding wore off).

    We often had to leave dad alone during that time (and during the lights too) because he was NOT feeling very Christmassy by the time he was done! 😂
  • Latrellis
    Latrellis Posts: 65 Member
    Unwrapping Christmas presents under the tree, then wrapping again before mom got home.
  • Sand_TIger
    Sand_TIger Posts: 859 Member
    Latrellis wrote: »
    Unwrapping Christmas presents under the tree, then wrapping again before mom got home.

    LOL - I love it! I used to carefully feel and shake the presents. One time my dad hung a big long oddly light package on the tree. I had NO IDEA what it could be. Turned out to be some balsa wood for making things out of!
  • goal06082021
    goal06082021 Posts: 2,130 Member
    edited December 2020
    Growing up, Black Friday was the day the Christmas decorations went up. My mom and sister and I would haul all the Christmas stuff out of storage. We'd assemble the tree, Mom would wrap it in lights, and then my sister and I would go through all of our lovingly-packed boxes of ornaments and reminisce about when and where and from whom we got each one. We'd do the same thing in reverse every January when the time came to put all the decorations away again, carefully wrapping each ornament in paper towels and packing them into cardboard boxes - some of those boxes and paper towels must be older than I am.

    The tree got more and more chaotic and colorful every year as we accumulated more and more ornaments. No two ornaments had anything more in common than being owned by our family - no cohesive color palette, no curated aesthetic, it was just a big, glowing rainbow monument to our family's collective past in the living room every December. At some point, when it's safe to travel again, I want to visit my mom and raid her ornament collection for my own tree - I have a few favorites, and she has a few that were given to me specifically by friends in college that I left in her care while I wasn't able to decorate my own space.

    I have a memory of the tree itself, too. Around 1995, my family was in the market for a new (artificial) tree. We went to K-Mart and found one that was the perfect size and price. The sales associate told my mom that the display model was the last one in the store, so she offered to buy that one, volunteering to take it apart and pack it up herself. They let her, and she's had the tree for 25 years now.

    I was too young at the time to remember this myself, but I'm told that as a wee bab, we'd go driving around looking at Christmas lights, and I would helpfully point out "Mo' wites oba deh!" (more lights over there) - I would have been around 2-3 years old at the time. Baby Me is quoted often at holiday time when there are, indeed, mo' wites oba deh.

    My mom will insist otherwise, but there is video evidence that the first Christmas gift I ever received was a dog toy. It was a big, dimpled, yellow squeaky rubber ball, mom - in what universe is that not a dog toy?

    Edit to add: Among our other Christmas decorations is a Nativity scene featuring porcelain figurines that my mom and grandma hand-painted together sometime in the 70s. It's a lovely set, you've got your Mary and Joseph, your baby Jesus in his little cradle, an assortment of livestock and your three wise men, all in a little wooden manger. Bafflingly, there is also a bag of glittery white cotton batting to represent snow, and a few snowy plastic pine trees, because as everyone knows, Jesus was born in the Pacific Northwest. Probably 8 years ago I added a tiny sign to the entrance of the manger that says "You must be this tall to view the Savior. Thanks, -Mgmt" and my mom didn't notice until she was putting it away that following January. She's left it in there, though, which I appreciate.
  • ReenieHJ
    ReenieHJ Posts: 9,708 Member
    For years my ds bought me a Hallmark ornament for Christmas, from the winter wonderland series back in the late 80's-90's, with penguins, etc. He stopped after about 10 years. But I always put those ornaments front and center every year. Along with the ones my kids had made throughout their school years.