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Posts Tagged ‘Christmas memories’

Ta-dah!

And I’m back. Two posts in one day!

I managed to get a lot done and even took a long nap! Part of that is because my daughter is busy with her in-laws who came to town just for the afternoon. They’re gone now so we’ll see how long it takes her to call me.

I’m in the middle of steaming another small batch of tamales. Three dozen last night and another three dozen this afternoon. I used to make twelve and more dozen at a time but I just don’t have the stamina (or the kitchen space) to do that anymore. I just last about two or so hours and I’m done. I will, most likely, make more late tonight or in the morning. Tonight I have to run out and pick up a last minute photo gift for my daughter from Walgreen’s and then come home and wrap gifts and set up that tiny tree!

In other news, Maya began crawling two weeks ago. Spencer has learned to recognize his  name and is working on the abc’s. Anderson hasn’t been well. He seems to have developed migraines but I think the timing coincides with increased iPad use so that may be the culprit. I’m hoping that’s it because decreasing that activity should take care of any more headaches. He’s too young to start having migraines. He’s only seven.

My daughter’s boyfriend lost his job the week before Thanksgiving and she only works during school days so Thanksgiving and Christmas breaks mean a smaller paycheck. So you can imagine that things are stressful in that regard. I can’t help them out. They know that. However, it hasn’t stopped her from needed to borrow “just twenty dollars” or “just fifteen dollars” because it’s for one of the kids. Gotta put a stop to that too.

In any case, I basically came to prove to myself that I could return and post twice today! And here’s another favorite Christmas story.

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When my kids were growing up, we lived in a small town near Los Angeles and in another town right next to us, one much smaller than ours, they had a Christmas parade each year, during the first weekend of December. Because it was in California, we didn’t often have to worry about wet weather but we did have to bundle up because even there, in the foothills of the Crescenta Valley, it could, and did, get very cold and windy.

For a small town, Montrose had a big parade. It wasn’t fancy. It featured every local school’s marching banc, every gymnastics troop, every scout group, a local motorcycle group performing stunts, and the last few years I attended, even the preschool participated with parents pulling the little ones in wagons and pushing them in strollers.

It was fun. It didn’t matter that there were no big, fancy floats. It just mattered that everyone was there for the same reason, to celebrate all the kids in the parade, young and old.  I remember the excitement as we headed for the parade each year. We had to get there early so we could get front row seats, sitting on the curb with blankets and taking a big thermos of hot chocolate and some snacks. It wasn’t until years after we started attending that the started to sell hot chocolate and cookies and all sorts of stuff. In fact, it makes me wonder what that little parade is like now. I’m sure it’s very different from the days when I marched the parade route with my Cub Scouts and my Girl Scouts. In fact, I had to do it twice. I had the parade organizers place my Cub Scouts and Girls Scouts far enough apart so I could march with one troop then run back to the beginning of the route to march with my other troop! Those were the days when I was young and had a lot more energy. I’m sure I couldn’t do that now!

Of course, the highlight each year was Santa Claus arriving over the parade route on the search and rescue helicopter! The helicopter hovered above the parade route with spotlights shining on Santa as he hung out the door waving to the kids below. It really was kinda neat!

Those memories bring back the good times; the times when all was good and we were happy; the times of innocence and believing in magic and the good in the world.

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I moved from California to Oregon in the summer of 2008 so last Christmas was my first here.

Our plan for Christmas was to have my son and daughter fly from the SF Bay Area up here to Portland.  My daughter was flying on the Sunday before Christmas and my son had to work until the 23rd so he would fly up here right after work.  My other daughter lives here so she only had to drive from across town in Beaverton to my house.  All was set.  Sort of.  I still had to do my shopping.  I had no gifts purchased.  The forecast in the second week of December was for bit of snow.  That was pretty exciting for someone from California!  My son and daughter were excited about the possibility of seeing snow in the area when they arrived for the holiday.

On Saturday, December 13, I went across town and got all of my supplies to make tamales.  Then I waited my turn at the tire store to get my snow adapters on my wheels so that, should I need them, I would be all set.  I have what’s called Spider Spikes so once the adapters are on the wheels, the spikes can come on and off as needed throughout the season.  So I was set. I had asked my daughter to stop and get some chains for her tires, at my expense, but she ran out of time.

That evening I set about making tamales and my daughter and her boyfriend came to help (and eat)!  They left to a party and I stayed here.  I don’t think any of us believed that it would snow.  I settled in to watch a DVD and I fell asleep.  When I woke up around1 am, it was snowing!  It was very exciting.  I went out and took pictures and walked in it for a bit but not a lot because I didn’t have appropriate shoes!  I only had flip flops and Crocs!

So it snowed all day Sunday.  And it snowed all day Monday.  Tuesday it began to melt but it was very slippery/icy where I live and because I live in a mobile home park, which is private property, the roads here were not plowed.  We would have to wait for the snow to melt.

Then it snowed again on Wednesday.  And Thursday.  By then, my son got online with me and ordered all of our presents from Amazon.com with free two day shipping.  I was sooo glad I had deposited a check at the bank before coming home the last day it had not snowed!  A lot.  And Friday.  By Saturday, things were a mess and flights were being canceled, both in and out of Portland International Airport.  The forecast was for continued snow.  And still I had done no shopping.  And by now, there was an accumulation of about 4 feet of snow on the streets where I live (remember, it isn’t plowed here).  I couldn’t get out of my driveway.  I began to look for a taxi service to bring Susie home when her plane arrived the next day, if she could get here.  The forecast was now for snow through the 22nd.  Panic is not a word I use lightly but that’s exactly what we began to do.

I was stuck way out in the east side and my daughter way out on the west side.  She had no chains for her tires because none were available any place.  So she couldn’t drive in the snow.  I had the appropriate equipment for my tires but I couldn’t get out of the driveway.  No one was able to in the mobile home park, except those with four wheel drive and because I was very new here, I didn’t know anyone in the park (I still don’t and it has been almost 16 months since I arrived).

On Sunday my daughter’s flight was canceled and we could not find her another flight as everything was now sold out.  I was really upset that I couldn’t get my then  18 y/o here for the holiday.  To keep busy, I set up the artificial tree all by myself.  It’s quite big and bulky.  It took me hours and hours but I got it done.  Finally, late Monday night, we were able to get Susie on a plane up here but she would have to fly from Oakland to Lake Tahoe and then Lake Tahoe to Portland.  It was the last flight out on the 23rd.  That was the best we could do.  So I prayed my 18 year old would not find herself stranded in Lake Tahoe, Nevada, by herself on Christmas Eve.

It kept snowing.  Then it stopped but it didn’t warm up so the snow did not melt.  Then we got freezing rain on top of it.  Not good.

In the end, my daughter’s roommate stood in line at the tire store for four and a half hours to get chains for my daughter while she was babysitting.  So my daughter ended up going to PDX to pick up both her sister and her brother.  Both flights were delayed and Susie’s got out of Lake Tahoe about ten minutes before that airport was closed.  About 2 am I got a call saying she had found both Tony and Susie and they were on their way home.  The drive from the airport is normally about twenty minutes.  They didn’t get here until 3:30.  It took that long to get here in the piled up snow.  Apparently, it took them 20 minutes getting from the highway to my driveway and that’s only about a half a mile.  They couldn’t get near the house because of the snow so she just dropped them off and Tony made trips with luggage across the snow.

We could not get out of the drive way on the 24th either.  Susie baked after a neighbor offered to make a grocery run for everyone on the street.  Tina got the groceries for Christmas lunch after work.  She was lucky enough to get to the grocery store about ten minutes before they closed the doors.  She wasn’t able to make it over here on the 24th so we made her promise she would be here by 8 am on the 25th.  And she was.

We had an early lunch because Susie had to be at the airport to get her flight back.  She had her original flight back home although she hadn’t gotten in until four days after she was supposed to arrive, but she had to work on the morning of the 26th so she had to leave on Christmas Day.  But she had gotten here.  We had been together.  And we had all survived.

That was last Christmas.

This Christmas is supposed to be better but we are already getting grumblings that it may not work out as planned.

Oh, and this year we are skipping Portland for Christmas.  We’re heading to the San Francisco Bay Area instead.  Gives a whole new meaning to A Moveable Feast.

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When I was a little girl, my parents would take the seven of us kids to look at Christmas lights. We would pile in the car and just drive around different neighborhoods, near and far. In those days, for the most part people didn’t have elaborate holiday displays. It was the late 50’s and early 60’s. Most yards had just colored lights around their house or some houses would put the lights only around their windows, like my family did. Some houses would get lots of ooohs and ahhhhs for having just one color of lights instead of multi-colored lights.

Although we lived in California, we would bundle up with coats and gloves and hats when we went out because the evenings did get cold, or at least colder than the usual warm weather we were used to. We always needed to bundle up too because my father would sometimes drive us up into the mountains where the more affluent homes were. There was no telling where we would end up when we set out to look at Christmas lights. When we went into the “better” neighborhoods, it was a special treat because those people had lights on the trees and shrubs in their yards and most of them also had some kind of display, like a nativity scene or Santa and his team of reindeer. When we found a cluster of homes with neat yard decorations, we would park the car and walk from one yard to the other, taking our time at each yard.

Usually there weren’t a lot of other people that got out of their cars but once in a while, we’d find a house with such elaborate decorations that it would cause a traffic jam and people would just park their cars and walk around the neighborhood. I remember one house in particular that had animated decorations in their yard; Christmas carols were playing and if you stood there and waited long enough, there was some kind of machine that made it snow in the yard about every fifteen minutes. There was always a crowd at that house. We would stand there and watch the gingerbread men with moving arms and legs. Their decorations were embellished with colored lights. Giant candy canes and gum drops whose glow lit the way in the otherwise darkened streets put us into a trance, broken only by my mother’s insistence that we move on or go back to the car before our hands and feet broke off!

One time we went back to that same house on Christmas Eve and there were so many people that we had to park a couple of blocks away. When we walked to the house, we all walked holding hands. My older brothers were in charge of us younger girls. I usually held David’s hand and he was always very careful that I didn’t get hurt or trip or that I didn’t cross the street at the wrong time. That night there was a bus full of people and many families, too. When we got nearer to the house, we could hear singing that wasn’t the same as the one coming from the speakers in the yard on previous visits. The police had roped off the sidewalk and people were walking by the house slowly but no one was allowed to stop for very long. In a way, that was better because the singing was coming from a choir that had set up in the wide snowy driveway of the house and when you got past the house, there were people handing out hot chocolate and candy canes. It was more exciting that night than it had been on previous nights, perhaps because of the number of people there. People weren’t pushy or loud or rude like they can be these days. The kids were all well behaved and everyone seemed to be happy to be there. It was a good feeling to be in the same place with so many happy, smiling people.

Now I think back on the simpler days when a family could jump in the car and drive around getting true enjoyment from looking at simple Christmas lights and being together with each other. It didn’t take expensive movie or theater tickets to please us. It didn’t take a visit to Disneyland. It didn’t take a lot of money. It just took being together and enjoying the magic and the simplicity of the holiday.

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