Christmases To Remember

I always stumble upon the most interesting things when I'm looking for something else.  This afternoon I discovered two shoe boxes full of wooden Christmas ornaments that my mom brought me last time she visited.

For my mom, Christmas was a time not only to celebrate the birth of Christ, but also a time to celebrate family.  This will be our first Christmas without my mom who passed away at the end of June this year.  Today as I picked up wooden rocking horses, bells and nutcrackers I thought of the many Christmases past, and how she made them memorable. 

The first thing that came to mind was the  long blue velvet skirt that she made. I wore when I sang with the junior choir one Christmas Eve. I felt like a princess as we sang an African Christmas Carol and the minister's daughter, Dawn Godley played the unusual rhythm on a small drum.

Each Christmas Eve, as my sister and I dressed for church, my mother pinned a new corsage to the collars of our coats; a gold or silver leaf adorned with  berries, poinsettias, plastic glitter covered bells, velvet ribbons and tiny pine cones.

I recall the the makings of French onion soup simmering in the crock pot, while Mom wrapped gifts in the dinning room Christmas Eve.  There were new Christmas nighties each year and we pleaded to open just one present...please?... before bed.
My first Christmas memory is welling up at the sight of the Baby Magic I had wanted so badly but didn't expect to get.  And the tears returned once more when my mom reminded me of it as an adult, telling me how little money they had that Christmas and how she found the doll on sale at the last minute. 
If you lived in Sioux Lookout, your plum pudding came from a can with a CN logo.  And that brings to mind the mincemeat tarts my mom made, with pastry that was so flaky (even on the bottom!).  I have visions of her graceful fingers on a shotglass, pushing it into pale shortbread dough and the puffed circle she shook out of the opening.  In my mind I see the half moon shapes of mushroom delights and easily recall the scent of thyme and browning onions.

One year while my parents were out at a Chrismtas party,  my sister and I discovered the Barbie Camper Van in my Mom's closet.  We played with it for much of the evening and and put it back into the box as best we could. I'm sure she knew we'd been into it, but she never said a word.

For six Christmases in a row we were each given two silver ornaments from a twelve days of Christmas collection from Eaton's.  What a special collection to have now that one of Canada's first department stores  is no longer around.

And who can forget the long (and crumpled) silver strands of icicles draped so carefully all over the tree and their laborious removal on New Year's day.   We hung them carefully over a piece of cardboard, and struggled to slide them into the narrow box without doing too much damage to use again next year.

I recall the scent of Beauty Counsellor face powder, and the click of my Mom's high heels on the hardwood floor when she walked around her bedroom preparing for a Christmas party.  She looked into to her dresser mirror and tilted her head side to side as she clipped white pearls to her ears.  She'd scan the dresser for her perfume and twirl the black lid off the top of the chunky bottle of Chanel No. 5.   Her index finger covered the opening and I watched in fascination as she turned the bottle over and back up to reveal a perfume covered impression on her finger.  She dabbed a little behind each ear, then returned to the bottle and drew her finger across her wrist. And then the finale, my favourite part.  She reached for my hand and turned it over and pressed her wrist to mine, sealing the bond.


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