Lucky me. I’m sitting in the living room of our little beach bungalow reflecting on the events and experiences of this past month, and I’m feeling awed and humbled by my good fortune. Wound through and around and over and under these thoughts are memories of Christmases past. What is it about this time of year that forces one to reflect on yesterday? The people, scenes, sounds, and sights from my past are all around me.

It’s been an interesting month, and I have lots of swirling thoughts about how traditions change as families change. Plus, the society itself continues to change as people get greedier (at least some of them) and more frenzied as they go about decorating, shopping, and partying. It might have been like that when I was a kid, but I don’t remember that. I just remember the magic. And no, it wasn’t because we were wealthy and had beaucoup over-the-top gifts, just the regular stuff.

Seems like my sister and I ALWAYS got some pajamas, a pair of bedroom shoes, and a doll. My granddaughters (see above) got some cupcake p.j.s this year. Aren’t they cute? One year I got this gorgeous doll named Bonnie that was the size of a six-month old baby. I loved that baby doll, especially her curly red hair…that is, until my brother David decided that she’d look better bald. Ever had a little brother who messed with your stuff??? Santa brought my sister Ann a doll that year too, and she named her blond baby Beth.

Like most of the people I knew then, my family visited grandparents to share meals and gifts. Aunts, uncles, and cousins were always around. At my Grandmother Padgett’s house, the kids would always sit on the floor of an adjoining room to eat our Christmas victuals while the grownups sat at a big round oak table. I recently had a flash of déjà vu when I relegated my grandchildren to the floor at my house. There simply wasn’t room for them anywhere else, and this way I didn’t have to worry so much about spilled Sprite or sticky macaroni and cheese.

Speaking of macaroni and cheese, it’s funny and wonderful how some of the same traditional family dishes and specialties continue while others develop. I can still taste my mother’s marvelous fudge! She never knew this (at least I don’t think she did), but I’d often sneak into the kitchen, gingerly take the top off of the tin, take out a sweet square, move the other pieces around to hide the empty space, and then I’d savor the rich sweet treat. She also made nutty fingers (lady fingers), and this Christmas, her sister Joni shared some with me. As for the present, my specialty is Chex party mix. Lib makes the best chocolate candy in the universe with a recipe borrowed from my childhood friend Jeanita.  Lauren always provides sausage dip made with Rotel and cream cheese, and it’s become traditional for her dad to call her and ask for the recipe even though he knows it well.

Elizabeth and I have a busy day ahead of us so I need to wrap this up. I’m going to do it with a quote I’ve been wanting to use for a long time. Hope you like it. “Families are a complex web of lives stretched across years and generations as well as vast geographical and cultural distances.” Wendy Wright, Sacred Dwelling

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