Thursday, December 17, 2009

Christmas as a kid in Cambridge. to my dad.

I love Christmas.

I always have.

I remember Christmas at our house when I was growing up, of course. What I remember most - more than anything - was that it was always a time of laughter. My dad loved to laugh, and always seemed to find the humor in any situation. But for some reason, Christmas day was especially joyous to him.

He may have laughed so much 'cause I was a bit of a clown . . .

Or I may have been a bit of clown simply because I enjoyed making him laugh.

I can remember his laughter vividly - it boomed. And when he laughed, you just couldn't help but laugh along.

I still hear that wonderful laughter in my heart, and not a Christmas day has gone by since he died that I don't share a chuckle and a tear with him.

I also remember there were two very different types of gifts under the tree. Looking back, I can easily figure out which were from "Mother Santa" and which were from "Father Santa."


What do you think?

See those drums?

What mother is going to give her only daughter a set of drums for Christmas? Not mine, I can assure you. Know what I remember most about those drums? The big drum ended up with a big hole in it on Christmas day 'cause somebody played the foot pedal too hard. big sigh. I cried and cried.

And those dolls. See those dolls?

I never ever understood the whole doll thing.

They didn't talk. They didn't play. They didn't do anything but sit. Cute and Mute. But no one seemed to notice that I wasn't fond of them and I kept getting more dolls. Every year for my birthday and Christmas I would get dolls. Little bitty dolls. Big stuffed dolls. Dolls dressed to the nines and wearing high heels. I've since asked my mother if I didn't ever just say I didn't like dolls, 'cause even back then I had a tendency to speak whatever was on my mind. She says she doesn't think I did, but they did notice that they didn't get picked up and played with too often. well - that's not exactly true. The ugly homemade dolls did, and the stuffed dolls did. If it was ugly, it won a place in my heart. If it was a soft, stuffed doll, I'd drag it around everywhere. But it if was a pretty little doll, I just couldn't care less. Instead I just played with my imaginary friend that no one else could see, but they all knew about. That friend stayed around for more years than was probably healthy, actually.

THAT is another story for another day. Back to the dolls . . .

I remember trading one doll with a girlfriend for a book. Even then I was a lover of books.

Mother is one who has "pack-rat" tendencies. It's a trait I inherited in spades. She's gotten better about not saving every old ribbon and bow off our gift packages, but she used to save everything. Old report cards, old pictures (thank goodness!), old favorite dresses, and old toys. So it ended up being up to me to get rid of some of those things that had no value other than sentimental. She could not bring herself to do it, so she handed over all my "stuff" and said "do with it what you will." It was easy as pie for me to get rid of those dolls, I gotta tell you. Once they came out of the attic and into my possession, it didn't take long at all. I advertised them in the Atlanta Journal and they were sold within a few days to someone with a doll collection. He was tickled to death to get them, and could not believe what great shape they were in. Some were still safely tucked in their original boxes. I'm not sure, but I think I probably used that little windfall to buy books.

I had Tiny Tears

And I had one of these gorgeous American Beauty Toni dolls

This gal was still wearing a little pearl ring when I sold her. AND high heel shoes.

One of the dolls I did really love though was my Howdy Doody Doll.

He was fun!

I'm sure he talked to me.

sure of it.

and I had a Howdy Doody puppet.

I just loved Howdy Doody.

One year Mother dressed me up as Howdy Doody for Halloween. Actually, it wasn't much of a stretch seeing as how my hair was short and red and I had freckles and I was skinny.

Anyhoooooo . . . .

back to Christmas in Cambridge when I was a kid.

Besides receiving a lot of dolls for Christmas, the other memories that jump to mind immediately are how beautifully the town of Cambridge was decorated.

Even our fire department pulled out all the stops -

Right across the street from our apartment was Phillips Hardware, which had a huge front window. Every year Santa Claus would sit in a big comfy chair in that window and the kiddies would line up to sit on his knee to tell him what they wanted for Christmas.

And every year I'd be one of those kiddies standing in that line.

And then, when it was my turn to sit on Santa's knee I would start crying. Bawling to beat the band and flatly refused to climb up on that strange man's lap. Oddly enough, I wasn't quite that careful about men as I grew older. Oops - ANOTHER story for another time . . . . .

Christmas remained my family's favorite time of the year. Even after I moved away from Cambridge, I would still go home for the holiday. There was only one Christmas in my life that I wasn't with my mom and dad.

Now, of course, I'm all grown up, married to Donald and we share our home with Harley the Wonder Corgi. and Mother comes to our house for Christmas. and we still laugh. lots. and loudly. Dad would be proud.


Vicki Lane said...

Fun to see the pictures through the years . . .

I was never much of a doll person either . . . but a new Nancy Drew could make my heart beat faster!

Sam Hoffer / My Carolina Kitchen said...

What a lovely set of memories Kaye. I had completely forgotten about the Toni dolls. I didn't care for the fancy dolls either - I preferred Raggedy Anne & Raggedy Andy and practically loved them to pieces. Someone gave me a collection of old Nancy Drews and my sister and I always got the latest book as soon as it came out.

I love the memory of your father's laugh. I wish I could remember my parents' voices. I can see them, but I can't hear them.

I hope you have a wonderful Christmas and a very happy new year. Thanks for sharing your memories with us.

Wendy said...

Oh Kaye, you knew just exactly what to get me for Christmas!! I do so love the Cambridge stories; it reminds me so much of my hometown!!

What an absolutely wonderful holiday gift! THANK YOU!!!!!!!

Elizabeth Spann Craig said...

These are wonderful pictures, Kaye! And a nice tribute to your dad.

I was a dolly fan. :) I DO remember feeling sorry for the ugly ones! I'd completely forgotten that...


Anonymous said...

What great memories, Kaye, and I love the old photos. Thanks for sharing.

Pat Browning

Shannon said...

Hi Kaye,
Loved to see your old photos and hear you discuss Christmas and what it means to you.
Me, I'm a big bah-humbug but I wasn't always that way. My husband and I were just discussing it yesterday during lunch while out doing some Christmas shopping. Christmas for me, growing up, was always spent with my grandparents, and steeped in tradition. Christmas Eve dinner was ALWAYS chili and/or oyster stew for the more adventurous and we always got to open 1 present from under the tree. And I loved that I could always guarantee to get the same thing year after year from my grandfather (Werther's Originals!). Now, with my grandfather gone 12 years, my grandmother dying from Alzheimer's, my dad and stepmother living two hours away, it's hard for me to get in the Christmas spirit because the tradition died when my grandpa did. It was never about presents because we were poor and that was something I ALWAYS knew! But it didn't matter how poor we were; I was with people I loved and loved me right back. I knew that someone was going to get the snake in the can and I prayed it wasn't me! I knew my dad would just LOOOVE the Danish butter cookies that I got him every single year. I knew I'd get my bag of Werther's and that was how my grandpa showed his love for me every year.
And I've tried to find a way to keep the tradition alive but it's just not the same, so my husband and I don't buy each other anything and we save our money and go on a trip to someplace warm, usually during the cold winter months when I've had it with the weather.
But I do love to hear how others view the holidays and I'm glad you can still find the laughter. Thanks for sharing.

PS--I always preferred books over dolls too. I wonder if that's why I'm a librarian rather than a daycare provider!