WAY BACK WHEN
At this wonderful time of the year, do you think back at the #ghosofChristmaspastandChristmasnow? We all have of our memories of Christmas as children and remember the anticipation of Santa arriving during the night with a bag full of toys and goodies.
The cookies and milk would be left for Santa and greens for the reindeer.
We try so hard to be good, in the days running up to Christmas, just in case, he might just go flying by on his sleigh with his reindeer and not stop off at your house.
THE BUILD UP TO CHRISTMAS
What excitement pervaded our household of four little children, when our mother began making the Christmas Cake and put us to work making decorations. They were made of crepe paper strips which we carefully cut and then by gently pulling the edge, thereby making it flute the edges.
These streamers were strung up from a center point in the ceiling out to the edges of the room. In the middle, a carefully kept, fold out bell, was hung with great ceremony.
Each year we would try something new with the crepe paper but the bell was always in the middle. We had a branch cut as a Christmas tree and we made all the decorations for that too.
MOMS EDIBLE CHRISTMAS TREE
Mom sometimes made an edible tree. She would string popcorn and wind it around the tree. Hang up brightly covered sweeties, baked gingerbread biscuits, etc. What fun this all was.
We children made our own ornaments out of whatever we could find and these were kept for many years. Certainly, the three girls were crafty but our little brother would try his hand at making things too.
TIME FOR MOMS CHRISTMAS PUDDING
Oh, what an affair this was. First, it meant boiling the tickeys and sixpences (now you know how long ago this was). They were made of silver in those far off days and these had to be boiled before being inserted to the pudding which was set in a special tin and then set in a pot of water to boil for a certain number of hours.
Once it came off the stove and was tipped on a plate to cool down, then it was time for the inserting of the precious coins. The excitement built up as we watched Mom carefully inserting the tickeys and sixpences, we wanted to try to imprint in our minds where the larger coins were placed (as if we would remember on Christmas Day?)
THE NIGHT BEFORE CHRISTMAS
As in many households across the world, t was a very hard job for our parents to get us settled into bed, as we would want to watch out for the arrival of Father Christmas.
Poor exhausted Mom and Dad would have to wait for all four of us to be sound asleep before putting the presents around the tree, knowing full well that we would be up bright and early and then pandemonium would prevail.
Often we would creep down while they were asleep and try by shaking, smelling or feeling each parcel, to guess what was inside. We couldn’t take the chance of opening a corner to peek through.
If we made enough noise waking up, that was the signal for Mom and Dad to get up and then the magic of Christmas day began.
Dad played the role of Father Christmas and doled out a gift to each of us in turn. We would watch carefully to see what was given and received, and especially if the recipient had liked the gift we had made for him/her. We made most of our gifts or in later years, used our pocket money which we had saved to buy something small for each member of the family.
The tradition in our household was that we were only allowed to choose one gift to open before going to Church for our Christmas Service. Gosh, the anticipation and excitement to get home was quite overwhelming and we hoped that the Minister’s sermon would be brief. I bet that his family felt the same way.
ONE VERY DIFFERENT CHRISTMAS
When living in Redcliff. When I was around 10years of age, my father worked at Risco, (Rhodesian Iron and Steel Commission) and they held a party for all the children in the large Club House. We received wonderful gifts which Mom and Dad had chosen from the list which they received and knew we would like.
A friend Brenda and I danced as Christmas fairies the one year and it was so funny as half-way through the dance someone bumped the record player and the music changed dramatically, as you can imagine, we carried on dancing but didn’t know quite where we were in the dance, so just improvised. It was quite a hoot.
THE POLIO SCARE
The year after the Christmas fairy debacle, we had a totally different way of celebrating Christmas. For one thing, we all had to go to the local clinic for a polio vaccine. The queue was so long that I passed out and had to be taken in before some of the others who had waited far longer than I and then taken home by ambulance. This happened on both the occasions we had to go for the polio vaccine.
My mother was quite used to be blacking out now and then, as I had done so on occasions when she was pinning up a hem and I had to stand on a chair. She was relieved for us to be taken home in the ambulance so we avoided the long walk home.
Naturally, that year we could not have our usual Christmas party at the Club and it was very disappointing until on Christmas day we got such a lovely surprise to hear Carol singers in the street outside, and there down the road came a large flatbed truck with a pianist, carol singers, singing all the lovely well-known carols and there was Santa with a very large bag of gifts.
The children from the entire street, crowded around the truck and as our names were called out, we went forward to collect the gift and a bag with sweets, and fruit, from Santa Claus. My special gift that year was a tennis racket. What joy.
CHANGE CAME WITH MARRIAGE
New blended tradition needs to be formed. Matthew’s family did things differently. I found it quite difficult to adapt to the changes but to keep the peace (very important) especially at this time, accepted them.
When our children came along though, I stuck to my guns about the presents around the tree as they got older. When they were little they each had a pillowcase in which we put the presents. That really was not my idea of fun as I loved to see their reactions to the presents which were so carefully made or bought for them.
None of the children cared for Christmas cake but loved the mince pies I made, so we compromised with that and it was not a problem.
Although our Christmas traditions have changed over the years as when one marries, one also has to marry the traditions of both households. This is not always as easy as it sounds, but it pays to compromise and keep the very essence of what Christmas is all about.
Over the years of my married life, I have loved to carry on making the Christmas gifts and have tried so many varied Art and Craft and Sewing ideas during this time.
- Sewing – quilted cushion covers
- Net Food Protectors
- Embroidered items – peg aprons, Christmas runners and serviettes
- Decoupage boxes and home crafts, door stops. Pots for indoor plants.
- mosaic – lamps, pot plant pots
- Sewing children’s clothing for my own children and also the children we used to host for the holidays from the Johannesburg Children’s Home.
- Rag Dolls and toy frogs for Maitland Cottage Hospital
ALWAYS ON THE LOOKOUT FOR SOMETHING NEW
Have been through many stages and the family has had gifts made in varied mediums and I am always on the lookout for new ideas.
CHALK COUTURE CHRISTMAS CRAFTS
Fortunately for me, my daughter has just interviewed Melissa Hancock, a lovely young Stay-at-Home Mom in the States who is a Chalk Couture Designer.
What a fantastic interview Lauren conducted with Melissa. Knowing that I am a ” craft nut” she asked me to see what I thought and my thought was, WOW! What a lot of fun and I can’t wait for it to come to South Africa.
You can find Melissa on ChalkCouture/LoveisBlonde.
SHARING IS CARING
With Melissa and Lauren’s blessing, I am sharing these lovely articles using Chalk Couture Melissa has made for her home.
PLANNING FOR CHRISTMAS 2018
So much planning goes into making Christmas a special time for all and this year, son Greg and daughter-in-law, Kelly and their family, are kindly hosting 19 of us in their home.
We shall all be contributing something towards the meal but have decided on no presents.
Our thought is that we really have enough and it is our presence and not the presents that count to make Christmas special. We are giving of ourselves. Spending happy times together.
One thing I find is that not many of the young people, I know, like the traditional Christmas cake that I grew up with. Our Christmas’s here in this hot climate are a very different affair to what others in colder climes enjoy.
No snow here, perhaps a slight drizzle on Christmas day, but usually sunny and hot.
A good day to enjoy a Braai (Barbeque).
My, that seems so very far away but at my age, I find that time absolutely flies and one must just be grateful for the wonderful times we can enjoy as families and friends, each and every day of 2019.
Not to wish our time away but fill it with what makes you and others happy.