Memories of Christmas

I don't have a lot of happy memories from my childhood, but I could always count on Christmas to be a happy time. We lived next door to my father's parents and my aunt and uncle, and their kids, lived in a house at the beginning of the family's shared driveway. It was pretty cool because we were a tightly-knit clan with no pretensions. Another aunt and uncle (and their son) always drove up from San Pedro, and my Godparents lived only a couple of streets away. We were all musicians and comics --showbiz people-- so that made our times together very interesting. My grandparents' house was small, but we somehow fit 20 or so people in there. The kitchen table was loaded with typical 1950s finger food that always included a relish tray, celery filled with pimiento cheese spread and Ritz crackers topped with Swiss cheese and there were always card games, jigsaw puzzles and music-making going on.

Whenever Christmas rolls around, certain pictures come to my mind, the predominant one being my grandparents' bed covered in coats. That one always brings me a warm and homey feeling. I'd like to share some others with you. Maybe my "codger" readers will remember these:

Bubble Lights. My parents never got any because they said they were too expensive, but my grandparents' had them. What kid in the 50s didn't sit on the floor staring at them? Weren't they magical??

Ribbon Candy. There were always bowls of these treats scattered around the house. I never really liked hard candy, but this stuff was different for some reason.

California Sampler. Seems like someone always sent us one of these trays. Filled with fruit, nuts and dates, it always looked good, but it usually went bad before everything was eaten.

Chocolate Balls. I used to like helping my mom to dip the condensed milk, powdered sugar and walnut balls into the chocolate, but nowadays I wonder at how safe it was to consume that much paraffin...

Flocked Tree. One year my dad sprung for one of these and I thought it was the most beautiful, magical tree in the world. I'd love to get another one year.

Garlands. Our tree, as well as our house, always got draped with these monstrosities. The doorway between the living and dining rooms got decorated with it, on which my mom hung the Christmas cards we received.

Plastic Wreath. I think there was one of these in every window of my grandparents' house.

Red Mesh Stockings. "Back in the day" we didn't have fancy, velvet and brocade stockings, we had these red mesh jobs. And we never got watches, gift cards, or jewelry. They were filled with fruit and candy.

Log Nut Bowl. I'm getting one of these next year because they're the most recognizable Christmas item in my memory. I can still see my dad sitting there with his. In fact, I still have his set of silver nutcracker and picks in a little wooden box with decorative clasp. It's one of my prized possessions.

Chocolate Covered Cherries. Oh, yeah... In the flimsy box. An American tradition.


  1. Bingo! Recall them all as staples at our house. Nice job.

  2. PS: did you dad used to spread a newspaper on his lap to put the shells?

  3. I recognized everything, although we didn't have all of those things at our house. My Grandma Erwin had one of those red, plastic wreaths, and I remember getting those red mesh stockings filled with nuts and fruit, until one year my parents sprung for red and white felt ones with candle appliques on them. That's when we started getting more expensive presents in our stockings. We had one of the log nut bowls with the silver crackers and picks. One of my dad's favorite activities was sitting with that bowl in his lap and cracking nuts and passing them out to everyone as we sat and watched TV.

    How fun!

  4. My dad always used a cereal bowl for the shells.

  5. Whatever happened to the tradition of the nut bowl? We don't do it,but it was a huge thing around our house, like the ribbon candy. Mom had a bunch of plastic holly too, and some of it was made into mini wreaths that went around red and green candles that we never burned! To this day I cannot stand candlez that one doesn't burn. We burn all of our candles, whether they are shaped like a tree, or not. HA! My mother would think that to be wreckless.

  6. We always have a nut bowl on the coffee table. We burn our candles, too, except a special one that belonged to Nettl's mother.

  7. Oh, man - I remember ALL of these! Our nut bowl was very special: My dad and my Uncle Oscar built my Uncle Oscar's log cabin from scratch and Dad saved a section of one of the logs they didn't need to use, carved it out and that was our nut bowl. I still have it - it's probably one of my most precious possessions. (Take my Visa, take my money but don't take my nut bowl!). Thanks for the memories, Steph!

  8. I dont remember a nut bowl but I do remember bubble lights - they were awesome! For me it is those cookies that are like black snowballs dipped in powdered sugar? Also dark chocolate non-pareils, I am going to try to find some good ones!


Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.