Christmas Past

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Saks-#2The images in this post were taken at Saks Fifth Avenue, way back in December of 2007, when Bill and I were visiting the city to see some good theatre, movies, and eat mouth-watering food.  These days the city is way too crowded for me to be comfortable at this time of year, so we’re staying here at home reliving trips from the past.  Besides, Bill will be having knee replacement surgery on January 4th.  He’s in a lot of pain, so traveling, especially to the Big Apple is out. I can tell you he’s already salivating over a few shows that will be there in the spring. I have a feeling that once the surgery is over and the pain subsides a bit, he’ll have show tickets ordered and train tickets in hand.

Today I found myself remembering one of my favorite early TV shows that we watched on Sunday nights way, way back in the ’50s, called, I Remember Mama. It was a drama-comedy about an immigrant Norwegian family living in San Francisco during the 1910s. Peggy Wood, played Mama, and Judson Laire, played Papa.  I was smitten with the family and their lives as told through the eyes of their grown daughter. They were the family I longed for; loving, supportive, and extremely kind … unlike my own very dysfunctional family.

The program ran from 1949 to 1954. Since we were the last people on the block to get a TV, I missed many of the early episodes.  But my favorite episode of all time, was the Christmas show, set out in the barn around a manger.  A cow, horse, and sheep tell the story of Christ’s birth from their animal points of view, while the human family listens in on the other side of the door. So sweet. So simple. So life affirming. And for me the perfect Christmas story.

I turned seventy-three last month and find myself enjoying precious moments from the past. I thinkSaks-#4 this remembering is one of the things that makes aging such a special time of life.  As I look back at what once was, I take solace in the way things were and am grateful that I had the opportunity to live a much more simple life when I was a kid.  There were no huge displays of holiday lights, no Black Friday sales. No robots. No cell phones. No standing in line to get a bargain on Thanksgiving night. Gifts were simple and came from the heart.  A handmade doll, a stocking filled with walnuts, oranges, a pair of hand-knit socks or mittens. I went caroling with friends in the our neighborhood.  It is that spirit that I wish to surround myself with during the holidays.

Do you have precious Christmas moments from the past?



  1. Do you have precious Christmas moments from the past?
    Yes, I do – the Christmas I got engaged to Cliff, my one and only. Last week we were looking at old love letters, readable but rain-soaked from storm water rushing through our garage.

    • Joan Rough says:

      Marian, Oh, I hope you can save those letters! What a wonderful memory. Bill and I also were “officially” on Christmas, though we knew where we were headed long before that!!

  2. Joan — Growing up on we had a musical neighbor — Mrs. Lewis — who lived a few doors down. Her kids (Pam, Jimmy, and Billy) were part of the neighborhood group of friends we played with. Every December the neighborhood kids would gather in her living room, around her piano, and we’d practice Christmas carols in the weeks leading up to Christmas. On Christmas Eve, we’d walk from door-to-door singing as we went—harmony and all. At the end of the evening, we’d gather back in Mrs. Lewis’ living room and she’d gift us each with a small box of ooey-gooey chocolate covered charges—the best!

  3. Joan Rough says:

    Laurie, Caroling was one of my favorite things to do too. Your Mrs. Lewis sounds like a wonderful neighbor and teacher of Christmas blessings!

  4. Love this, Joan. My favorite Christmas Past memory is sitting around a huge table on Christmas Eve with my Italian relatives for the Feast of the Seven Fish..I cringed at the fish but loved the laughter and love! My Nana always had delicious alternatives to the fish for all the kids. If I close my eyes, I’m back there!

  5. Joan Rough says:

    Kathy, Celebrations where food and nourishment are so awesome and filled with love. What a wonderful time that must have been. I hope this coming Christmas will bring you more sweet memories to pack away and bring to light when you close your eyes.

  6. Christmas at our house was dramatically underplayed. No tree. No tv. No fireplace. No Santa.

    What did we have? A tall cupboard unreachable by us children that contained presents for everyone. Mother and Daddy often shopped the day before Christmas at the little Five and Ten Store in town, hoping for 50 percent markdowns.

    We longed for presents from the Sears catalog, but seldom got them.

    But Christmas was special nonetheless. We always had a feast. Often Mother would invite people who had nowhere else to go (we were less than excited by her generosity, but we behaved ourselves).

    Mother and Daddy would read Luke 2: 1-20 in the KJV and be very serious about making sure we didn’t think Christmas was about anything other than God sending Jesus into the world out of love for us. Tomorrow, my mother will gather 13 grandchildren and about as many great grands and make sure they hear the same story.

    A Mennonite Christmas as remembered now.

    May Bill’s surgery go well, and may your hearts be bright.

    • Joan Rough says:

      Shirley, Even though it was underplayed it still sounds wonderful, especially with a feast attached! I hope there was also fun and laughing for you kids. Have a wonderful Christmas!!