Monday, December 15, 2008

Christmas in a small town

Though I now live in a city, I grew up in a small town in Kentucky surrounded by acres of farmland and forest. There was no skating at Rockefeller Center or hopping over to the movie theater on Christmas day. Why? Because there was no ice rink or movie theater in town. We did have a drive-in for awhile, and I remember it was $5 per carload in the summers and we'd see how many people we could stuff in a car. :) Even though the town was small (about 3,000 people in an up year) and wasn't exactly awash in economic prosperity, it did provide its own set of Christmas memories.

Like most towns in America, it had the annual Christmas parade down Main Street. It didn't have big floats like the Macy's parade, but it did have horses, the Shriners on little motor scooters, floats mainly made by clubs and teams at the high school, the Job Corps drill team, our small high school marching band in which my two best friends played, and Santa.

Here's Main Street, including one of the two stop lights in town -- in the entire county, for that matter.

Though in recent years, there has only been one of those plastic, light-up Nativity scenes on the courthouse lawn, I can still remember when there was a live Nativity there. Community members dressed as Mary, Joseph and the wise men would brave the December cold and stand in that open shed for hours. I think there might have even been live animals.

Here's the courthouse sans Nativities. You can, however, see the Christmas tree decoration on the utility pole at the left.

Back in those early childhood days, I can still remember my dad bringing his mom to town (she didn't drive) to do her Christmas shopping. At that time, there was a Western Auto store still on the square. I can still remember all the shiny bikes in the front window. In a town that didn't have a Wal-Mart or anything similar beyond a Dollar General Store, the Western Auto was the best place to buy toys, and buy them she did because my sister and I were her only grandkids. The Western Auto is gone now, gone the way of the live Nativity.

Christmas Day when I was young involved short trips to see the two grandmas. Lunch was always with my mom's parents, who lived in town. Mamaw and Papaw had 15 grandchildren, so we each got one small gift. But it was nice to be in that house stuffed to the rafters with cousins, aunts and uncles. Dinner was always with my dad's parents in the next county until they passed (Grandpa when I was 5 and Grandma when I was 10). Grandma always made way too much food, and we always took some home with us. The things I remember most were her homemade chicken and dumplings, slow-cooked green beans and yummy banana pudding. My mouth is watering just thinking about it.

Christmas night would round out with whatever Christmas movie was on one of the three channels we got via our antenna out in the country. It was usually one of the black-and-white classics.

So, were Christmases simpler when you were young? Do you have small-town Christmas memories?

105 comments:

Jeanne (AKA The Duchesse) said...

oooh, oooh, is it me???

PJ said...

Oooh, Jeanne! I was so close! lol!

Jeanne (AKA The Duchesse) said...

It is!! Woohoo! Here chooky-chooky! Grins.

Great post, Trish. I have so many of those small town memories from childhood. Visiting with my mother's sisters and the Shriners in the parade.

You made me REALLY hungry with the talk of chicken and dumplings and 'nana pudding. SLURP!!!

No one made chicken and dumplings like my Mama. Sigh. I cannot for the life of me duplicate it. Nor her fried chicken.

I love seeing scenes of small towns like that tho. For some reason, they fire my imagination with all the small town drama, the camaraderie, the helpfulness and the way everyone knew pretty much everything about everyone. :> Comforting as well as crazy-making. Ha!

I don't know about you, but I could never get away with anything. If I walked in the little store in my Mama's home town - one flashing stop light, four churches, the post office and community center - the clerk, Old Mr. Tom or Mrs. Tom would say, "Why here's Annie Lou's littlest, what do you need honey?"

Grins. (BTW, I didn't know they had real last names until I was nearly grown.)

PJ said...

Trish, like you I also grew up in a small town. The "business" district was about 1/4 mile long with one traffic light at the south end of town where the 50+ year old high school was located. (A second light was added at the other end of town in front of the only grocery store when I was in high school) We had a small clothing store, two drug stores (with soda fountains), three bars, hardware store and a few other assorted businesses. We didn't have a movie theater and any ice skating was done on the lake north of town.

I remember one year in my early teens when the town held a Christmas shopping night on main street. All the businesses stayed open late (until 9pm), there were decorations hung from street lights and music was piped through outside speakers. It was snowing and I thought the whole evening very magical. I still remember it as if it was yesterday.

Trish Milburn said...

It is you, Jeanne.

Sorry I got the post up late. The 15th sneaked up on me.

Jeanne, my grandma made good fried chicken too. My dad's parents were really rural people, older, and we had good country cooking. My grandpa was 50 when my dad was born. People look at me funny when I say my grandpa was born in 1889. Neither of them ever drove.

For the Christmas at Mamaw's, we potlucked it since there were just so many of us.

And you're right on the money about small towns. People are helpful and nice, but they also know all your business. :)

PJ said...

And you're right on the money about small towns. People are helpful and nice, but they also know all your business. :)

You're so right about that! By the time I got home from a date my parents already knew everywhere I had been and anything I had done!

I got married in 1976 but people in my hometown still call me by my maiden name and the nickname I left behind in 6th grade. To the older generation I'll always be "little so and so, Jim and Pat's girl".

You didn't think I was going to actually post that nickname, did you? (grin)

Keira Soleore said...

No way!!! I can't believe it!!! GR, you rat. You ran all the way to Jeanne???

Donna MacMeans said...

I don't think one could call Towson, Maryland small...but Christmas memories make an impression no matter the size of the town.

I remember lots of snow. I think we always had a white Christmas when I was young - which means I remember snow forts and snowball fights with my brothers as well. I remember bubble lights and ornaments that would soak up the ambient light and then glow when the lights were turned out. I had a penguin that glowed, and I'd keep him in my room just for that short-lived eerie light.

I remember church - a big, big catholic church - draped with greenery and poinsettias and heavily scented with incense. We got to sing Christmas carols as part of the mass (which was said in Latin back then- couldn't understand a word of it, but I knew those carols!) I always thought they should sing Jingle Bells and Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer instead of those more pious songs.

And I remember all the Christmas variety shows on TV...and cookies and milk...and nuts in a big bowl with a nutcracker...and hard candy with pictures of christmas trees in the center. (I remember food in great detail *g*)

Donna MacMeans said...

Congrats to Jeanne on the rooster!

Trish Milburn said...

PJ, before there was a chain pharmacy in town, we all went to City Drug to get our prescriptions. There was a soda fountain in there too. I love those.

I don't really remember anything from my early years, but now the town sponsors a program to encourage people to shop locally to keep what business there is there in business.

Keira Soleore said...

Trish, I adore Nativity scenes. In our school classrooms, we had two cupboards (chin-high) on either side of the blackboard. On those and the bulletin boards on the walls above them, we'd do our decorations for the various festivals. Lots of cotton was a must for the snow scenes, as were paper with sand glued on top for the scenes from the Middle East. Every student was required to contribute, with prefects and monitors handing out assignments and giving an aye/nay on submissions. (Power--yeah!)

Since I've always lived in cities, my memory of a small town is a German make-believe holiday town on the other side of the Cascade mountains in eastern Washington. They do a bang-up job of Christmas decorations; the entire town gets in on the act, with the gaudier and showier the decos the better.

Jeanne, er, er, er, congrats?!?!?

:)

Trish Milburn said...

PJ, I didn't really have a nickname, but I can tell when people know me from my hometown because they still call me Patricia.

Keira, I think the GR heard that Jeanne throws a fab party and has shown up at her doorstep demanding one in his honor. :)

Trish Milburn said...

Donna, you brought back some more memories. We didn't have the bubble lights, but we did go out in the woods and cut our own tree, a cedar instead of a pine, and drag it back to the house. And we had those big lights that were actually hot when you touched them. You had to keep the tree watered or those lights could catch it on fire.

I like the white Christmas in theory but not in reality. I think that's because I don't really like winter in the first place. I'm very cold-natured and I'm just miserable in the winter.

I remember my Mamaw having bowls of nuts with nutcrackers and those hard candies around her house at Christmas. And my mom still to this day buys a bag of apples and a bag of oranges for Christmas as well as a bag of cream drops and a fruit cake.

Trish Milburn said...

Keira, I like Nativities too. And angels. I have to keep myself from buying lots of angels. I have more Christmas decorations now than I can use.

Cheri2628 said...

Christmas WAS simpler back when, but I still love it!

Crianlarich said...

Lovely post, Trish. I didn't grow up in a small town, but Christmas definitely was more simple in my childhood. Favorite Christmas memories are setting out cookies and milk for Santa, staying up late to watch the TV reports of Santa and his sleigh crossing the weather radar screen. And, of course, a highlight was my dad driving us around to see the pretty light displays. I think Christmas nowadays is way too commercial and am grateful to have memories of quieter, more homey-style holidays. Thanks for the great post.

Trish Milburn said...

Crianlarich, I remember watching Santa on the radar screen too. And the radar screens were way cheesier back them. :)

Cheri, I still love Christmas too. I haven't decorated this year though because we're going to have to have some floor work done on the room where the Christmas tree goes. And we always travel for the holidays anyway since both of our families still live in Kentucky.

Janga said...

My hometown is a little larger than yours, Trish, large enough to have two roller rinks and a movie theater when I was growing up, but still very much small town. I too remember Christmas parades with church and civic floats, two marching bands (city and county high schools), and Santa riding on a fire engine. I’ve never seen a white Christmas, but I can remember many when we watched the parade in what my mother called “shirtsleeve weather,” meaning coats and hats were not needed.

We spent Christmas Eve with my dad’s family. Dad was the only son with six sisters, so the house was always packed with aunts, uncles, and countless cousins. By the time each family arrived and added their gifts to those already under the tree, the gifts spilled out so that my youngest aunt, who always distributed the gifts, had to step carefully to keep from crushing a gift on a child sitting on the floor.

We left right after breakfast on Christmas Day to travel twenty miles across the state line to be with my mother’s family. Here there were fewer people—seven cousins instead of dozens. My maternal grandmother was an incredible cook. Even from my perspective now, having eaten at many much-lauded restaurants, I’ve never tasted food to equal her turkey and dressing, green beans (no casseroles, just beans from her summer canning), sweet potatoes, and cakes that I still dream of—Lady Baltimore, chocolate fudge with pecans, pound cake, orange, and her specialty, a towering six-layer fresh coconut that was my grandfather’s favorite—everyone of them made from scratch. Great memories, but I’m not sure that my grandmother thought of her Christmas as “simple.” She spent weeks preparing for that day.

Trish Milburn said...

Janga, your memory about your youngest aunt handing out the gifts reminded me that for years my sister and I did this since we were the youngest of the 15 grandkids. As we got older, the children of my older cousins took over.

And because there were so many people there, we had to eat in shifts. The men ate first, then the women. I remember my sister and I sitting at the kitchen bar eating.

Maureen said...

I didn't grow up in a small town but they do sound like lovely places to live. I don't remember any Christmas parades but I do remember the fireman going around with a Santa on the truck giving out candy canes.

traveler said...

Loved your photos and the post. I grew up in a large city but since it was in the 1950's everything was low key, simple and sweet. We used to go ice skating every day on the holidays and before Christmas since there was tons of snow sledding and then hot chocolate and driving around the beautifully decorated neighborhoods with their supreme decorations.

Buffie said...

My favorite childhood Christmas memory is of a small town Christmas. When I was around 11, my parents and I moved from Florida where we lived in a busy area with a pool and boat and all the normal Florida trappings to a very small town in a valley in North Carolina. It was the first time I ever saw leaves change color. I clearly remember walking down the sidewalks in town with my mother and see all the little shops full of glitter and Christmas cheer. The local bakery had wonderful yummies to try and it was just a picture perfect place. That Christmas morning I woke up to find a sled under the tree. I was so excited to see that because it meant I might actually see my first snow (which I did). That memory brings a smile to my face.

jo robertson said...

Delightful walk down memory lane, Trish.

Yay, Jeanne. A Bandita grabbed the rooster. Way to watch out!

We spent the first four years of our marriage in two little southern Idaho towns, about 2500 to 3000 people. Everybody really did "know your name"! My first three children were born there, but we had to travel to Idaho Falls because there was no hospital.

Yummmy on the chicken and dumplings. I haven't made those in a long time. You've given me the idea. It's off to the kitchen.

Banana pudding is my daughter's favorite dessert. It's so simple to make but she thinks it's lots of work so occasionally I surprise her with it.

Great post, Trish!

jo robertson said...

Oh, Jeanne, double yums on the fried chicken. Once in a while, Dr. Big will beg for it, but honestly, it's sooooo unhealthy I can't quite bring myself to serve it up like I did when I was young and ignorant. Besides, then he'd want me to make my potato salad and that's way too much work!

jo robertson said...

Oh, come on, PJ, now we gotta heard the nickname!

jo robertson said...

Ooooh, Trish. I collect angels, so I have all sorts of them and if I don't put anything else out (I too have way too many decorations), I always like to have the angels on display. They're so friendly!

p226 said...

I live in a very medium sized town. We have maybe, 110,000 people in the metro area. I attended the Christmas parade this year (first time in decades) because my son was playing in a school band. I also went because I promised my wife to be more ... "festive" this year. See, I'm normally a combination of Charley Brown and Ebeneezer Scrooge. "Christmas is too commercial!" Meets: "Humbug!" She's a very festive holiday person, and, well, this has annoyed her for years.

So anyway, yeah, it was pretty cool watching him march by playing. And it was cute seeing all the kids on the floats waving and throwing candy at us. (Oddly, they threw it at me, but ran up and handed it to my wife.)

But I was struck by something besides candy. Most parades here in the US have a color guard, don't they? Two riflemen and two flagmen, one carrying the US flag and one carrying the state flag. I did not see a color guard. The closest thing I saw to it was a tiny clown car driven by a Shriner. Two full-sized American flags stuck up out of the car, hanging perilously close to the ground. As it passed, I snapped to attention and delivered a salute, as the US Flag Code has recently been updated making it acceptable to salute in civilian clothing.

As it went on down the street, I realized that I was the only person within two blocks that so much as acknowledged the presence of the colors. I was also the only person to shout "Semper Fi" as the Marines passed with their Toys for Tots display.

This made me feel old and out-of-touch.

Jane said...

Congrats on the GR, Jeanne.

I grew up in a big city, so I've never experienced Christmas in small town. We did go to Rockefeller Center to see the trees and ice skaters and to take pictures. We also went to see the Christmas windows at the department stores.

Virginia said...

What a great post. I still live in a small town in KY. It is not the place I grew up in, but it is with 50 miles of there. Yes I do think things were more simple when we were kids. We would get one nice toy for Christmas and were thrilled to get that and we took care of it. Its different with kids today, they have to much.

By the way we still have turkey and home made dumplins like my grandmother used to make when we were young at Thanksgiving and Christmas. We make a huge kettle full and everyone takes some home with them.

Ok everyone get out those rolling pins and mix flour, egg, salt, pepper and turkey broth with chicken base in it and mix into a dough and roll very thin with your rolling pin. cut into small pieces with pizza cutter and drop into your boiling turkey broth and cook until done. It just requires a little work and you have some awesome dumplins. This is how my family does it here in KY.

Anna Campbell said...

Hey, Jeanne, cool move on the chook! And PJ, missed it by THAT much...

Trish, what a lovely post. It brought back memories for me too. I grew up in a tiny little farming community that didn't even have a main street! There were three tiny little stores where you could buy groceries but if you wanted to do a big shop, you had to drive ten miles. If you wanted anything that approached a department store, you had to go to Brisbane 25 miles away. And this was back in the days of winding country roads. It's progress, I know, but I'm always sad when I think that little farming hamlet has now been subdivided and is covered in houses. There's shops and highways and even a mall with a megaplex cinema about two miles away! That's just wrong to me! 25 miles from Brisbane is now considered a reasonable commute! Another thing when I grew up was that there was one high school to service the entire Redlands area - in Cleveland which was the 10 mile shopping destination. Now there's schools pretty much on every corner!

Anna Campbell said...

Hey, PJ, what's the nickname? You KNEW we'd want to know!

Is banana pudding bananas mashed up with ice-cream? That was my mother's version of that! It was something she used to make when we were sick so it's got good (well, in terms of parental love!) memories for me.

I'm really enjoying everybody's Christmas memories!

Nancy said...

Duchesse, you snagged him! Too bad, PJ, but better luck next time.

Yes, Trish, I have small-town Christmas memories. I grew up in a college town of 1200 people. The population doubled when the college was in session. We had a big Christmas tree in a green space across from the Main Street shops, and individual shops decorated. No parades or anything like that. We, too, had a Western Auto that sold toys.

The local garden club sponsored a decorating contest, and we used to drive around at night and look at what people had done with their yards.

Our Christmases were simpler, too. Santa usually brought one big thing (bicycle, Barbie dream house, easel with art supplies) and maybe a couple of small ones--Barbie outfits and the like--and some candy and gum. I had one package under the tree from my parents, one from my sister, one from my mom's cousins who spent the holiday with us. Some from my friends. That was it, for just about everyone I knew. And we were all happy with what we got.

Jeanne, I always knew that if I tried to pull anything I shouldn't, word would reach home before I did. *g*

Gillian Layne said...

This is just the best post! I grew up in a small town, and now live in a small town just down the road from the other small town! :)

P226, let me tell you, yes, we have color guards in every parade, and any young person within my line of sight knows how to pay their respects. My older girls even get after their friends now.

"Christmas night would round out with whatever Christmas movie was on one of the three channels we got via our antenna out in the country. It was usually one of the black-and-white classics." Yes, the "three channels" only is all my parents have ever known. The new switch to digital TV is stressing them out.

Gillian Layne said...

Anna, banana pudding is one of life's simple joys. To me it is:

Banana or vanilla pudding, either quick fix or cooked.
Vanilla wafers
ripe bananas

Layer the pudding, whole cookies, and sliced bananas in a large bowl at least twice. Top with Dream Whip or whipped cream. :)

Minna said...

I've always spent my Christmasses on countryside.

Pentti Hietanen - Oi Jouluyö
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mTTbGhNdukQ&feature=related

Joan said...

Jeanne, you little sneaky elf!

Kiera's been on the prize post throwing out corn to lure the chook to her!!!!!

Did you use magic? Again??

Trish Milburn said...

Maureen, isn't it funny how all these memories of Santa have him riding on a firetruck?

traveler, I wish I'd learned to skate when I was younger. As an adult, I took a beginner's ice skating class at the sportsplex here. I finally got to where I could let go of the wall, but I don't see any Olympic medals in my future. :)

Trish Milburn said...

Of course, considering we're supposed to get an ice storm tonight, I might be able to skate in my driveway tomorrow. Ugh.

Trish Milburn said...

Buffie, that is such a sweet memory. And very picturesque. I really like North Carolina. It's got the best of both worlds -- the rolling, verdant mountains and the beach. I would like to try a Florida Christmas sometime where I could string palm trees with lights and decorate the Christmas trees with things like sand dollars and seashells. I actually bought some seashell ornaments the last time I went to the beach.

Joan said...

Well, you can't call Louisville a small town but the "suburb" I live in had the feel of one when I was growing up.

Western Auto. There never has been nor will there ever be an more perfect store than the Western Auto. It had everything you could possibly imagine needing.

Oh, well except for Murphy's. THAT had everything! As a child Christmas was the best at Murphy's glittering lights, and fancy wrappings, decorations galore and all at the perfect level to be appreciated by a wide eyed 6 year old.

I have one succint memory of a Christmas parade held downtown. It was blustry cold and then you dressed UP to attend. So my tiny little legs were frozen before it was over.

But it was ok. SANTA was there.

And giving a shout out to P226!!! We miss you bud and welcome home!!

And duck! Here's some more Christmas candy!!!

Trish Milburn said...

Jo, my hometown has a hospital, thank goodness, though a small one. It, the school system and probably the county governments are the biggest employers. Lots of people are farmers or coal miners. Even though I'm not a winter weather person, I do think it'd be fun to try a Christmas at a ski resort. Bundle up in those huge snowsuits and try to learn to ski, then cuddle up by a huge fireplace with steaming mugs of hot chocolate with lots of whipped cream.

Anna Campbell said...

Thanks, Gillian. No, the family BP was mashed up ripe bananas with sugar and cream and ice-cream. Seriously yummy!

Trish Milburn said...

p226, I think freedom and our way of life in the U.S. is so far removed from military service for most of us that people don't even think about saluting the flag. I think it was much different for generations who experienced wars like the Revolution, Civil War, World Wars, etc.

I tell you what always, without fail, makes me choke up though -- when they show families reuniting with returning soldiers, especially around the holidays. We see that fairly often because of Fort Campbell being up the road, and it always makes me choke up and wish that people never had to experience that separation.

And congrats on being more festive this year. :) You need to come talk to my husband. He's not curmugeonly, just doesn't get into the holiday spirit much.

As for the commercialism -- yes, it's there, but I think we can all have wonderful family Christmases and traditions despite it.

Trish Milburn said...

Jane, I wanted so much to go to Rockefeller Center and see the skaters when I was up there just before Thanksgiving, but it was so brutally cold I couldn't make myself go out again. Even New Yorkers were looking decidedly uncomfortable.

Trish Milburn said...

Virginia, your dumplings sound scrumptious. Maybe I'll be adventurous and try to make some.

Trish Milburn said...

Anna, my hometown honestly hasn't changed all that much since I lived there. Yes, there's a McDonald's and a Subway sub shop now, but everything else is very much the same. It's not really near anything, so it doesn't grow or attract industry. It's 23 miles to the nearest Wal-Mart, an hour to the nearest mall or multi-screen movie theater.

Trish Milburn said...

Nancy, like you and so many others, I remember limited presents -- partly because that's just the way it was then and partly because of finances. It does seem that kids now expect to get lots of gifts and expensive ones. Their attention span for a single gift seems to last only as long as it takes them to eyeball the next wrapped present.

Trish Milburn said...

Gillian, we're going to have to deal with doing whatever needs to be done to Dad's TV in order to make it work after the digital transition. Sigh. Not looking forward to it because I haven't the first clue what to do. I need to look up the info online. He still just gets three channels and a fourth when the weather is just right. :)

Trish Milburn said...

Minna, I bet Christmases in Finland are always white, aren't they?

Anna and all the rest of the Aussies, are all of your Christmas decorations, cards, programs, etc., down there centered around warm, summer weather?

Trish Milburn said...

Joan and Nancy, I'm glad someone besides me remembers the Western Auto. I remember the Radio Flyer bicycles and wagons in the front window. According to Wikipedia, there are only 7 Western Auto stores left.

Minna said...

Well, not necessarily in Helsinki. And it'll be interesting to see if the Christmas is going to be white here in eastern part of Finland, either. There is VERY little snow at the moment. ¤&/%(& global warming...

Sylvian joululaulu
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Za6V1rUc6hY&feature=related
And Sylvian joululaulu in English:
http://virtual.finland.fi/finfo/english/sylvia.html

diane said...

Growing up in a medium sized town was nice. I still live there and it has grown but is appealing since we are isolated and unique. I remember the walks that we took in the neighborhood and all of that still hasn't changed at all. Gift giving was fun since we visited family and friends and exchanged homemade and fun gifts, but it wasn't about the gifts then it was about the enjoyable time together.

Susan Sey said...

Hey, Trish! Great post today! This will be the first time I've been back in my home town for Christmas in several years, so I was just thinking about traditions & memories today.

I know this is going to sound hokey, but one of the things I love most about christmas at home is doing dishes with my family. We always have the huge meal on the hand-wash only china & wine glasses & silverware, so when we're done, we spend the next hour or so doing the dishes. While we rinse & dry & put away, we sing Christmas carols. It's like an hour-long carol fest in a warm kitchen with the people I love best in the world.

I'm looking forward to it.

ruth said...

Grat post. I enjoy reading about small town memories and how meaningful they are.
I have fond memories of getting together with friends for a festive meal and then we would surprise each other with a cute but thoughtful gift, which I still pine for. Since my mother was frugal we received necessary gifts such as clothing but we did appreciate it and wore them well.

Nancy said...

p226, my parents always saluted the flag, but they were both Navy veterans. I haven't been to a parade in so long that I have no idea what people around here do. It's good of you to go out and support your son, as well as being festive. I marched in enough parades in school to really appreciate people turning up for them!

Janga, I'm gaining weight just from reading about your family's holiday foods. Yumm.

Keira, I have the plastic nativity scene (several characters missing) my parents bought at a dime store when they were first married, and I have one carved of olive wood in Israel that I brought them from a church conference (in the NC mountains, not Israel). One of the churches here does a live nativity scene. I always feel for the participants when it's cold!

Buffie, the dh moved here after living in New Hampshire, where the seasons, he says, are spring, July, and winter. He likes gardening, so the NC climate suits him much beter.

Anna Campbell said...

Trish, it's really weird. In recent years, there have been Aussie-themed cards and decorations (a bandit or two may have seen them!). But I think the vast majority are still winter-themed and very European in style. And lots of people (my family included) still do a big roast meal for Christmas lunch - which is a killer when it's 35% centigrade outside! But somehow the pain is part of the pleasure if you know what I mean. And it's a time of year when you eat things you usually don't like fruit mince pies and plum pudding and turkey. I rather like the madness of the whole scene!

Nancy said...

With Trish's gracious consent, I'm announcing the holiday giveaway on my blog. It's on my webiste, www.nancynorthcott.com. Just click on the link for "Bright Lights, Big City" (because it's photos of holiday decorations I saw when I was in New York) and leave a comment. A randomly chosen commenter will receive a $10 gift card to a bookstore (I'm open to suggestions on which one).

Best of the season, everyone!

Trish Milburn said...

Diane, homemade gifts are fun, aren't they? It's nice when someone took the time and effort to actually make something.

Susan, what a neat tradition. We've descended into paper-platedom. :)

Beth said...

Trish, my town is small but a bit bigger than your hometown. We usually have tons of snow (although at the moment, it's cold and rainy - yuck). My fondest memories are of having the time off of school and spending the days sledding and when I was older, snowmobiling (yes, that's a real word in my town *g*)

Oh, and every year without fail after the tree is decorated, my dad would say, "You know, I think that's the nicest tree we've ever had" LOL! My kids now say it even though our tree is artificial ;-)

Nancy said...

Trish, the boy had a Radio Flyer wagon when he was little. I loved Western Auto. I especially yearned for the silver aluminum trees lit with a spotlight that had a color wheel in front of it, alternating red, green and gold. Mom didn't care for the effect, though.

We got a decoration from Western Auto that I salvaged from my folks' house even though it no longer works. It's a bell with a music box inside. When anyone pulled the clapper, the bell played "Jingle Bells." We hung it in the dining room archway. Every single person (we had 17 for Christmas dinner that year) who walked under it yanked the clapper--until finally my dad came out of the kitchen, took the bell down, and marched away with it. I think he'd had his limit of Jingle Bells, but my cousins and I were of an age to love the repetition! Daddy did consent to having it put up the next year. So I kept it, even though it no longer plays.

Trish Milburn said...

Ruth, on the topic of useful gifts, it makes me laugh now, but the one gift that my grandma always got me and my sister that wasn't as fun was...new underwear. LOL!

Nancy, I feel like I'm gaining wait today too. Oh, perhaps that's because of this chocolate orange I can't stop eating. Those things are sinfully good.

I have this little, cheap, plastic nativity that has silver glitter on top. I'm sure it cost like a dollar. But it was one that I gave my grandma when I was very young, and I received it back when we were settling her estate.

One of the big churches here does a Walk Through Bethlehem. I keep meaning to go, but for some reason I always seem to miss it. I do know it's hard to find parking. Here's a YouTube video of the event:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bCVXVciuE-4

PJ said...

Nancy, one of my childhood neighbors had one of those huge silver trees with the rotating color wheel. It even sat in a rotating stand. All the kids in the neighborhood wanted one!

PJ said...

I *am* gaining weight today! That's because in addition to the leftover pizza I had for lunch all I've done is sample the cookies and chocolates I've been making all day. I'm thinking I better find something healthy to have for dinner. lol

Trish Milburn said...

Beth, I've never been snowmobiling, though my sister has when she was working at Yellowstone National Park. She sent me a picture of her on it when it was -40 outside. Brrrrr.

Nancy, LOL on the Jingle Bells bell.

Joan said...

There is VERY little snow at the moment. ¤&/%(& global warming...

I gladly offer you the 4-6 in. we're expecting in KY in a few hours....major pain to get to work in.

Joan said...

I have a Cherished Teddies Nativity, LOL.

Baby Jesus is CUTE as a teddy bear.

This year though I thought I'd like to go back to a traditional one...but time is at a premium and I didn't get to shop for one.

PJ said...

P226, the largest number of military veterans in my state live in my county. You can be assured that here *many* people salute the flag when it passes. I was brought up to show respect to my flag by placing hand over heart, which I always do and I've done my best to pass that on to the next generation. My late dh was retired military which increased my patriotism even more.

PJ said...

Oh Trish, snowmobiling is fun! I hope you get the chance to do it someday.

PJ said...

Joanie, I have a teddy bear angel on top of my Christmas tree. I love him!

limecello said...

I grew up in a suburb - so there were a few large cities close by - but we could still drive around neighborhoods and see the Christmas lights families put up. :X I remember my dad took my sister out when she was in middle school to practice driving in the empty (and snowy) parking lots.
We often went to family friend's homes (we rotated, really) for potlucks on Christmas and around then - lots of fun. (The extended family is too huge and too far away to get together with.)

Nathalie said...

I grew up and still live in a big city... and Christmas is still the same around here!

Trish Milburn said...

Joan, I talked to my mom a few minutes ago. You know she lives in the western part of the state. She said they're already getting ice, and they let school out early. There's already a wreck down the street from her apartment. I keep checking the radar so I can call the hubby and tell him when to head home from work. Don't want him sliding off the road. A few years ago when we had a bad storm, he slid into the back of a FedEx truck. His office is up on a big hill.

Trish Milburn said...

Joan, I bet the teddy nativity is cute. My friend Tanya Micheals (some of you may know her) did a blog post a year or two ago about her kids and their Little People nativity. The little boy three one of the items across the room, and Tanya says, "Do NOT throw Baby Jesus." For some reason, that struck me as really funny. And if you know Tanya and imagining how she said it, it's even funnier. :)

p226 said...

And giving a shout out to P226!!! We miss you bud and welcome home!!

Awwwwww shucks. Thanks Joan. My absence has represented, without question, the weirdest and most awful two and a half months of my life. If anyone knew much of my history, they'd marvel at that statement. But I'm going to try to swing by The Lair more often. You gals crack me up. And these days, I'll take a laugh anywhere I can get it.

Trish Milburn said...

I don't have a teddy bear nativity or angel, but I do have two Pooh Bear ornaments. :)

Trish Milburn said...

Nathalie, Christmas is just magical wherever you are -- big city, small town or somewhere in between.

p226, so sorry to hear things have been so awful. I hope things are looking up. We'll do our best to keep you laughing.

Trish Milburn said...

limecello, you mentioned going to family friends' houses. That made me think of something I've often thought would be fun, especially in light of how stressful it can sometimes be to visit family at the holidays. I think it'd be total fun to rent either a beach house or a huge chalet in the mountains and have a friends-only Christmas. No stress. No family dynamics. :)

Helen said...

Congrats Jeanne have fun with him

Firstly let me tell you my second grandson has arrived finally Jake Dylan arrived at 3-37am 16th Dec wieghing in at 6lb 1oz (3.070kg) 48cm. He his a cutie as well and I am very tired I have had 3 hours sleep but it looks like Brooke and Corey will be home today so I need to get things done.

Trish
What a lovely post I love all of my childhood memories of Christmas I never came from a small town but our town was always decorated and Christmas morning was always so much fun we would be up really early opening presents then all the kids in the neigherhood would be out playing and showing off what we all got while the parents of said children would try and get some more sleep. Then we would be off to our grandparents place or one of my aunts places for a really big Chrissy lunch more presents and great fun with all of the cousins aunts and uncles.
Thanks for bringing back some wonderful memories.

Have Fun
Helen

Pat Cochran said...

Don't recall if Christmas was
simpler, I just recall that there
were lots and lots of aunts, uncles,
and cousins. I recall that when we
started having yearly reunions, the
first year we had between 350 and
400 people in attendance. And that
was about 2/3 of the family total.
I think we could have populated a
small town with just us!! LOL

Pat Cochran

p226 said...

No stress. No family dynamics.

Copious quantities of alcohol....

Trish Milburn said...

Helen, congrats on the new arrival! Now there's a nice Christmas present.

Pat, wow! Now that's a big family.

p226, LOL!

Joan said...

Copious quantities of alcohol....

Sadly, that's what caused OUR family dynamics...

((Hugs)) to you p226 and I echo Trish in wishing you nothing but health and happiness and well being for the New Year.

If it will cheer you up, Demetrius will take you shield sledding..


{Shhhhh, D. He needs cheering up....Ok, ok.....he can have his own shield. Sheesh..gladiators)

Jeanne (AKA The Duchesse) said...

Hello again, everyone! Just wanted to give you and update on the GR. We went Christmas shopping today....can you hear my exasperated sigh? No? I'll do it louder. *SIGH!!*

He's worse than a 4 year old. He kept trying to put chicken-themed ornaments in my cart at Williams Sonoma. He tried to snatch the hat off a child because there were big acorns on it. In the food court...OMGosh, I thought he was going to cause a riot. (They were serving chicken fingers from one booth...it was traumatic!)

Oh, also at Williams-Sonoma, he was opening the tins of peppermint bark and sneaking up behind the girl who was offering samples. When she stopped talking to whatever customer in front of her, he'd sidle up and cluck at her, flip his tail feathers. She wanted to take him home. Sigh. I had to put him in my purse (thankfully, it's quite large!) and haul him out of there!

HEY!!! P226!! Welcome back! Thankfully, we're always good for a laugh around here, for one reason or another...no always intentionally either. Snork! We missed you and hope your NEXT 12 months will be brilliantly positive to make up for the last sucky two and a half. :>

BTW, I always respect the flag and make my boys to the same. My DH is, like me, the son of a military dad. Both our father's served in WWII, his in the Pacific Theatre, mine in Patton's Army. :>

And I LOVE to see the parades with the color guards, the floats, the mayor, the band....have I mentioned that I have a thing for marching bands?

Oh, wait, the GR's in the shopping bags....better run

Anna Campbell said...

Hey, Helen, lovely news about the new arrival! Congratulations! Thanks for popping in to let us know!

Anna Campbell said...

P226, I'm so sorry to hear you've been going through a rotten time. I hope the new year brings a better cycle into play. Hope you're OK now! We have missed you!!!!

Joan said...

Welcome, baby Jake!

Corey and Emma have been waiting for you. :-)

Congrats Helen and do try to get some rest. The babes need their Nana/Gram/Grandmere fresh and peppy.

Jeanne (AKA The Duchesse) said...

Ooooh, Helen! You have another new life to cherish! Welcome Jake...a Bandit Hero in training to be sure.

Grins.

Beth said...

Helen, congratulations on your new grandson! How lucky you are to have two new babies to cuddle *g*

Trish Milburn said...

Joan, shield sledding...LOL!

Jeanne, I see the GR has been a naughty bird again today. Some birds never learn. (Trish shakes head.) And I like marching bands too. The college where I went hosted the state marching band contest for high schools, and hubby and I went a couple of times. Some really good bands from Louisville and Lexington.

Jeanne (AKA The Duchesse) said...

Oooh, Trish, I'm jealous. I adore marching bands. I also just adore drum corps.

Trish Milburn said...

Jeanne, I like drum corps too. I loved the drum and bugle corps performance at the Iwo Jima Memorial when I went on a trip there in high school. And I love the drum and fife performances at Colonial Williamsburg. You know, I have a cassette of that around here somewhere.

hrdwrkdmom aka Dianna said...

Congrats Jeanne! See that he behaves himself.

I grew up outside a small town, I didn't even live in it. Population, 1,116 in 2000. There are so many memories from those years and just like they say, everyone knows your name. Couldn't get into mischief for the life of me!
Going to town on pay day was the highlight of the month. Before we left the house mother would tell me if I could get anything or not. If she said no, then I looked a lot and remembered where it was for the next visit. If I was allowed I would of course shop all over and yet always end up with a book. What can I say? I have always been a reader. Christmas time was the best. I would get 5.00 to spend on Dad and Maw-maw and then dad would give me another 5.00 to spend on Mother. I was in high cotton.

Louisa Cornell said...

Congrats, Jeanne and OOOH so CLOSE, Keira! Next time! He really is a fickle, sneaky bird!

Great post, Trish! I am SO lucky because my Mom makes the best chicken and dumplings and nana pudding in the world and she makes them just for me at Christmas! Makes that 80 mile drive Christmas Eve AFTER I get off work so worthwhile.

We traveled so much when I was young (Air Force brat) that my Christmas memories are wide and varied. We had snow all three Christmases when we lived in England and that was great! I remember the bells ringing on Christmas Day in the big Norman era (now Anglican) church at the top of the hill and then the churches from all over the county answering and the sound of it was just amazing. We went to Christmas pantomime in London every year and saw Punch and Judy. I do remember that.

Santa comes around my Mom's neighborhood on the back of a firetruck on Christmas Eve and my niece and nephews have been there every Christmas Eve since they were little.

Here in Wetumpka, they do a live progressive Nativity, a Christmas Parade and the night of the Christmas parade there is another parade of floats on boats. It is called Christmas on the Coosa and it ends with Santa Claus coming down the river on water skis. All sorts of organizations participate in float contests in both parades. Then to top it all off there are fireworks. Christmas on the Coosa was this past Saturday night and it was great.

Joan said...

Joan, shield sledding...LOL!

Don't laugh Trish...it's how I'm getting to work in the morning!!

:-)

Jeanne (AKA The Duchesse) said...

JT, do you have hail, sleet or snow?

Amy S. said...

I live in a small town in Ky. Manchester, Ky. Can I ask what party of Ky that is in the pic? It looks a lot like where my grandma lives in Corbin, Ky.

Leslie said...

Hello Trish,
Your small town sounds very similar to the one I grew up in. Mine was a bit bigger, around 20,000 but it still had that small town feel. It was about an hour from Chicago, IL were my grandmother lived and we went for Christmas dinner. In my hometown we had the nativity, carolers and Santa always paid a visit. I remember going to Miss Alice's restaurant for hot chocolate and Ace Hardware had all their toys half price on the 26th. I miss that small town feel, there didn't seem to be so much rushing around but maybe since I was a kid I just didn't notice it.

Trish Milburn said...

Dianna, it's almost a foreign concept now, but there used to be the "go to town" days. Saturday was a big town day for lots of people. We didn't live in town either. We lived out in the country, even though it was only 4 miles from town.

I remember a story Mom told me about growing up during the Depression. There were six kids in her family, so one week the boys would get to go to town and get a Coke. Then the next week the girls would get to do the same.

Trish Milburn said...

Louisa, I do miss those heaps of fried chicken and nana pudding. All of my grandparents are gone now, and my hubby only has one grandmother left (she's 85). Now it's our parents who are the grandparents -- because of his brother's boys and my sister's girls. We're the odd, childless couple. :)

Trish Milburn said...

Joan, good luck sledding into work. So do you all have ice on the ground there yet?

Joan said...

Jeanne,

Yes.

Ok, so no hail but I think sleet counts as "soft hail"...

Trish Milburn said...

Leslie, your mention of Ace Hardware reminded me that there were also a few aisles of toys in the back of our True Value Hardware store. I was just in there recently to buy something for my mom, and it brought back memories.

The town where I went to college had about 15,000 people (probably closer to 25,000 with the student population), but it still felt small too. I really liked it.

Trish Milburn said...

Hey, look at that, we broke the 100-comment mark today. Yay!

Jeanne (AKA The Duchesse) said...

Woohoo, Trish! Great post, and fun chats today. :> I'm copying that dumpling recipe someone posted...

Michele L. said...

When I was little I remember sledding with my brothers. They would push me down the hill in our backyard. My brother, Gary, was a prankster, and would do things to make me fall over. Ah..the memories.

Also, I went ice skating a lot on the rink behind our house with all the kids in the neighborhood. We would play ice hockey, tag, and have races.

My family always went to Grandma's house every Christmas eve. That was always fun! We always had over 30 people, lot's of food, presents and lot's of laughing.

Now it is just my husband and I and my mom. Just a small intimate Christmas. We have taken to going out for the holiday dinner instead of going through all the work for 3 people.

Merry Christmas everyone!
Michele L.