Nativity Sets Through the Years

Four crèche sets that are part of our Christmas tradition:

Creche1This was purchased December 1969 when I had my first full-time job and was on a very tight budget.

Creche2This was purchased in 1970, our first Christmas of married life.

Creche3This set,  made in Kenya, was a gift from our daughter Naomi.

Creche4This set was purchased in Mexico in the mid 1980s.

Posted in Christmas | Tagged , | 2 Comments

Christmas Films

Of all the assorted Christmas films and TV specials, my favorite is Frosty, the Snowman.  The reason for that is simple– Frosty was the first Christmas special I watched with our daughter Naomi.

She was about two and a half and probably did not grasp the entire story, but she did ask repeatedly afterward, “Why Karen cried?”

This was back in the days predating flat screen TVs, high definition television, and surround sound.  If memory serves me correctly, we had one, and only one, television set at the time which was an a 12 inch black and white TV I had purchased, pre-marriage,  for the grand sum of $79.  It was bought on credit and I made six monthly payments.  The final payment was made with a great sense of accomplishment!

To this day, Frosty is still my very favorite Christmas film (although The Christmas Story–a/k/a “You’ll shoot your eye out, Kid”– is in second place).

“The Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories (ACCM) allows you to share your family’s holiday history twenty-four different ways during December! Learn more at http://adventcalendar.geneabloggers.com.”

Posted in Christmas, Memories | Tagged , | 3 Comments

Santa Claus Revelation

“Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus, ” Francis Pharcellus Church, (From the famous editorial “Is There a Santa Claus?” which appeared in The Sun, September 21, 1897)

My own reaction upon learning the reality of Santa Claus was not too emotionally-damaging.  Hey, as long as the presents under the tree on Christmas Eve continued, I was a happy girl.

When our daughter Naomi was young, we did not overly emphasize Santa Claus.  Our tradition was that we exchanged gifts on Christmas Eve and then Santa brought a few smaller items on Christmas morning which were literally stocking stuffers.  Santa was a low-key operation in the Lohr household.

But there was one caveat to this:  “Santa” always used different wrapping paper for the Christmas morning gifts … totally unlike what I had used for wrapping Christmas Eve gifts.

Well, at least that was the plan.  But it was foiled when observant five year old daughter Naomi shyly asked me one Christmas morning, “Mom, are you and Santa Claus the same person?”  Ah, the best laid plan had unraveled!  I don’t think our daughter was profoundly damaged by this revelation.  (Did I mention the Christmas Eve gift tradition continued?)

“The Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories (ACCM) allows you to share your family’s holiday history twenty-four different ways during December! Learn more at http://adventcalendar.geneabloggers.com.”

Posted in Christmas, Memories | Tagged , | 1 Comment

Christmas Recipe for Plain Suet Pudding

A seasonal tradition handed down by my mother-in-law Frances Hanson Lohr:  The little personalized notes were an inclusion when she gave us the recipe.

(My husband Jim has made this several times.  He says it is not quite the “plum pudding” some persons might expect.  This recipe is very rich. )

Suet Pudding

1 cup suet, chopped fine

1 cup syrup

3 cups flour, 3 level teaspoons banking powder

1 1/2 teaspoon salt,  1/2 teaspoon cloves, 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon, 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg

1 1/2 cups chopped raisins, 1 cup sweet milk

Mix the suet, milk and syrup.  Sift together the flour, baking powder, salt and spices.  Add to the suet, milk and syrup mixture, blending well.  Oh yes, add the copped or ground raisins to this!  Turn into a buttered mold (pan) and steam three hours.  Serve with hard sauce.

Note: I always used the white Karo syrup, I’m sure, but Dad thinks brown syrup would give it more color and probably flavor.  He thinks one can use a blender instead of a grinder for raisins but one can cut things, too.

Hard Sauce

1/2 cup butter or margarine

2 cups sifted confectioners sugar (which is powdered sugar, you know)

1 teaspoon vanilla

Thoroughly cream butter and sugar; add vanilla.  Vary flavor with lemon or orange juice and grated peel.  Makes 1 2/3 cups.  To make Fluffy Hard Sauce: Add 1 egg yolk to creamed butter.  Fold in stiff-beaten egg whites.  Makes 1 2/3 cups.

“The Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories (ACCM) allows you to share your family’s holiday history twenty-four different ways during December! Learn more at http://adventcalendar.geneabloggers.com.”

Posted in Christmas, Memories | Tagged | 1 Comment

Christmas Tree Lights and Martha Harsh

Ah, memories of trimming a Christmas tree (after it was displayed nearly straight and the best side showing to the room, of course!)– putting the Christmas lights on the tree.

My sister and I frequently helped our aunt Martha Harsh decorate her tree on a Wednesday after school.  She would have the tree up and in the stand, but let us put on the decorations.  Sometimes her dog Mitch also got into the act but was more hindrance than help.

The lights were the first thing to be put on the tree.  Prior to that we had to untangle the cords and basically lay them out straight on the floor.  This was easier said than done, given the length of the electrical cords.  Usually Martha did most of the untangling and this was only one of two times when we would see her get extremely frustrated.  (The other was attempting to start her power lawn mower with the wrap cord, but that’s a story for another post.)

Martha was an unusually calm person and took life in stride.  A more patient person would be hard to find.  But put a series of tangled Christmas electrical light cords in front of her and her frustration level rose exponentially.  There were no cuss words or anything, just a very stern look on her face and a sense of exasperation.  But eventually that which was tangled would become untangled and then we could proceed to help her place the lights on the tree … all a prelude to the second challenge:  which of the lights did and did not work.  If one in the series was not working, none of them worked.  (I would learn later in my physics class this was a perfect example of lights connected in a series as opposed to a parallel connection!)

So we had to test each light and replace it as necessary.  This probably took the greater part of the whole tree trimming episode.  At last the task was done and the fun part for my sister and I could begin as we put the ornaments on the tree.  I think Martha was so exhausted by this time from dealing with electrical lights, that she gladly relinquished this part to us.

The final touch was putting the tinsel (loose “ice sickles”) on the tree.  More of the silver shining material probably ended up on the floor … but the final result was a tree that, in our opinion, was rivaled by no other.

Thanks, Martha, for the great memories!

“The Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories (ACCM) allows you to share your family’s holiday history twenty-four different ways during December! Learn more at http://adventcalendar.geneabloggers.com.”

Posted in Christmas, Memories | Tagged , | 1 Comment

Sounds of the Season

Christmas music is in the air!  And has been for sometime!  Who waits anymore until after Thanksgiving for Christmas carols?

Thanks to the nuns who taught me in at St. Stephen’s Grade School in Bridgewater, South Dakota, I learned not just the first verse (or “stanzas” as they called them) but ALL of the verses.  Years later, I still remember most of the verses, but the years have dimmed my memory on some of them.

One of the favorites songs was “O Holy Night.”  My sister and I, in being silly, would love to come to the part “fall on your knees” … which we literally did (but only at home, not in church).

Although the traditional Christmas carols have been around for decades, the tune “Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer” and others have updated the mood somewhat.  But now a new twist has been added with Kristen Bell’s “Text Me Merry Christmas.”  For some reason, I haven’t learned all the verses to that one!

“The Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories (ACCM) allows you to share your family’s holiday history twenty-four different ways during December! Learn more at http://adventcalendar.geneabloggers.com.”

Posted in Christmas, Memories | Leave a comment

Christmas Cards, Letters, and Newsletters

Yes, my husband Jim, and I do send Christmas cards.

Yes, we do receive a fair number of cards.

Yes, we love receiving them.  It’s a great time of the year to connect with friends and extended family.  (And a bit of genealogy has been known to “creep” into our annual newsletter.)

Some people complain about family newsletters, but we enjoy receiving them.  (Besides, who has time and energy to write basically the same thing to everyone on their Christmas card list?)  Cards and newsletters keep us in contact with the sender and their family updates.  And photos are even better!  Jim’s comment on photos: “It’s a way to see how the kids have grown and changed … and how the adults have aged!”

Sending cards has been a tradition in my family for as long as I can remember.  My sister and I used to cut the decorative fronts from cards from the previous year and use them to decorate our room.  I think we also sent them to the “missions” for their work.  (Is this still done?)

Among my treasured cards are the ones a beloved great-aunt sent to us the last year she sent cards before she passed away.  Talk about precious memories!

I suspect the number of Christmas cards mailed will slowly decline in the coming years as we transition more to electronic communication.  But be assured if you send us a card, it will be kept in a basket in our living room for the next ten months or so as we enjoy referring back to the cards, letters, and photos during the new year.

So, keep those cards and letters coming!

“The Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories (ACCM) allows you to share your family’s holiday history twenty-four different ways during December! Learn more at http://adventcalendar.geneabloggers.com.”

Posted in Christmas, Memories, Uncategorized | Tagged | 2 Comments