Thursday, December 18, 2008


Jodie asked me to remember Christmas memories from the time the children were little. I remember being tired and needing more sleep. I still worked under the impression that all gifts had to be handmade. In Sweden people did a super extra house cleaning before Dec. 1. Then all preparations were about baking and sewing and presents. I still have wonderful things that the children made for us. All secret even from each other. I have asked all four of them to write to me about a good or bad memory they have from long ago. As soon as I get a couple I will post them.

We let the children pick out one present on Christmas eve. We tried to get them to bed at a decent hour so the presents that arrived knocked down could be assembled before midnight. Early in the girls lives they sang in our church choir and that meant an early attendance. Gilbert was an altar boy and when he stood near the altar he looked angelic.

I have received some memories. Nr. 1 daughter said: "I remember that you were always knitting. When we asked what I was working on, you told us that I was making covers for Dad's golf-clubs but when the right moment came it turned out to be sweaters for everybody." She also said that the big bake was a wonderful memory. She used to sneak a few little bits of dough. She makes the same bread for their Christmas and the result is better than what I ever made. Nr. 2 daughter said her biggest memory was the advent calendars. They all had a calendar with 24 curtain rings sewn on. On each I would hang a wrapped present. The rings were marked with the dates from Dec 1 to the 24th The items were simple and inexpensive and I would pick them up during the year. One might be as simple as an eraser and could be as large as a small tube of tooth-paste. It was a huge job tying them up after they were wrapped. It was fun to hear them talk about who got the better one that day, for they all got the same eventually. I am so happy that all the girls carried on that tradition. When people went to college they pled to have them sent to school. Nr. 2 also remembered one year when we made handmade little Santas for the tree. We strung red yarn from the back of one chair to another as far away as possible. We went back and forth stringing the yarn until we reached a suitable thickness. Then with red thread we tied of certain lengths, a long one for the body, a shorter one for the arms, a little red felt triangle for hat. A few stitches for face and beard and a loop to hang it with. We made hundreds and the tree looked great with the little red figures.

Nr.3 daughter remembered another decoration for the tree. We saved hundred of walnut shells from the Christmas baking. A little hole was drilled in the shell, they were sprayed gold, filled with cotton (from drugstore cotton balls), and a little half an inch nude baby doll. This daughter also remembers how I used to get stressed out and I would shout at everybody. I remember all of us being blissfully happy and calm. (kidding) She also remembers getting a bike one year and since it rained on Christmas Day she was allowed to ride it indoors, in that long hall in the back of the house.

Nr.2 remembers learning how to make cardamon coffee cake. We had orange juice and coffee and coffee cake during opening presents.

Haven't heard from our Nr.1 and only son, yet.


Sandra @ The Memory Workshop said...

I love Christmas and have vivid memories of so many family traditions. We're Canadian, and for many years my family would drive to Arizona to spend the holidays with my "snowbird" grandparents. White Christmases are rare in this part of Canada, and even rarer for me considering that I spent half my childhood Christmases in the desert!

My kids are 5 & 8 and already they have memories. I'm amazed that they can remember things from when they were 2 or 3 years old.

Thank you for sharing your memories! I'm going to ask my parents & aunt&uncle to share their memories when I see them next week.

weeder1 said...

I don't even remember now how I stumbled upon your delightful blog but I am so happy that I did! I wish that I had written down or recorded the stories of my parents' lives. This is a wonderful thing for your children and for your grandchildren. (and for those of us who just love hearing about other people's lives.)
Thank you! Please keep it up!

Joanna said...

"I remember all of us being blissfully happy and calm. (kidding)"

This line, in particular, put a smile on my face. I'm still loving your stories. Thanks for sharing.

TM Photography said...

I love reading your stories. I wish I could get my dad, mom, and/or grandma to write out their memories like you do.

Anonymous said...

I can still see that tree with the yarn santas, my mom keep one for years and always hung it on the tree. Christmas at your house was such a wonderful time, makes me miss my mom

Jane Ritter said...

This is number 3 reporting....I didn't say you shouted at us! Just that you got stressed out--you were always a perfectionist! Pete, your comment made me weep a bit. Christmas at your house was awesome too. This is the second year I have not done Advent calendars for my kids, ages 26 and 22! Great traditions live on. Happy Holidays to all.

Danielle said...

My favorite memory of growing up was stringing the popcorn and cranberries to make "garland" to decorate our tree with...just can't convince my husband to do this.

You mentioned cardamom bread, it must be delicious! I make cookies every year for Christmas that have cardamom in it, a family tradition was born when I found that recipe(my 9 year-old daughter loves helping mix the cookie dough, rolling out the dough, cutting the cookies out and icing them). They are called Nissu Nassu cookies and are VERY good (been told they are Finnish, but a Finnish relative told me that the name sounded Swedish, maybe you can shed some light on that).

Thanks for sharing what your children remember, seems kids remember more of the happy moments compared to the adults. :-)

Have a Merry Christmas!!!

Jodie said...

Thank you for the wonderful post! I will need to write a blog entry now on mine about my childhood Christmas memories. I don't have children to share them with but I have friends & relatives that might enjoy them.

BumbleVee said...

I like to make little mice ornaments... half a walnut shell is a little felt ears and eyes and a nose drawn on a hazelnut with a felt marker is the mouse in his hanging bed...tuck him in with a bit of cotton and tiny scrap of Christmas fabric.. a gold hanger..maybe even a bit of greenery..and voila...