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Rich Christmas’s of Long Ago

As a baby boomer, Denise and millions of others are becoming senior citizens. She explores what it means to be over 60 today.

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Christmas Without The Fat Man

As another Christmas has come and gone, I find it interesting that I spend so much of my time now remember Christmases from long ago. My Dad used to say often (too often) that we wouldn’t always have him with us, and of course, I knew that empirically, but it has been hard celebrating without him now that he isn’t with us anymore. I like to remember what it was like when he was still the lovable fat Santa of my youth.

My Dad was the Santa at our house.

My Dad was the Santa at our house.

At Christmas, all roads lead home.

— Marjorie Holmes

Christmas Lights

Christmas Lights

The Lights

I used to love the Christmas lights, turning out all the lamps and just sitting in the living room watching the twinkle of the Christmas tree lights, even before they would technically "twinkle." I can’t really say why I thought they were so beautiful and mysterious but I did. There was a whole fairy world tied up with those lights. It was somehow magical. Maybe it was just my young mind or the anticipation of presents, but I thought absolutely anything magical could happen at that time of year.

I love Christmas, not just because of the presents but because of all the decorations and lights and the warmth of the season.

— Ashley Tisdale

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Homemade Gifts

For a month or so before Christmas, the garage was “off limits” to my siblings and I. We all knew that there was a sort of Santa’s workshop going on in there and I always loved what my Dad made for us. One year when I was just 10 I got a new bike. I say new because it was new to me. It was perfect and red and pretty. I didn’t know or care that it had been a hand-me-down boy’s bike from a second cousin; not until he told me that is. What a kill-joy he was. Dad had cut the boy’s center bar from the bike to turn it into a girl’s bike. He sanded and painted it till it was new. Why that cousin felt such glee in letting me down that way, I’ll never know. However, as the years went by I feel great honor knowing how much work my Dad had poured into that first bike for me that he couldn’t have afforded to buy new. What I only had hints about was that we didn’t have the money for a new bike but Dad wanted me to have one, nonetheless.

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Handmade Furniture

Dad made a large dollhouse one year, beautiful, with real wallpaper and curtains. Mom even upholstered the hand made wooden furniture that he created to go inside the dollhouse. It was much nicer than any plastic thing they could have purchased at a department store, so I was extremely happy to have it. It was so strong and solidly built that I could stand on it to reach the top of my bookshelf.

Christmas Dinner in the '60s.  I'm the dark haired girl with the cat-eye glasses on the right.

Christmas Dinner in the '60s. I'm the dark haired girl with the cat-eye glasses on the right.

When we recall Christmas past, we usually find that the simplest things—not the great occasions—give off the greatest glow of happiness.

— Bob Hope

Rich Or Poor

For many years I thought we were special because we had pheasant for Christmas dinner. No one else I knew had pheasant for their Christmas feast. Dad went out and shot them himself. I still have no idea how far he had to travel or how long he had to walk to get them but he always brought back plenty of them for all of us to be full on Christmas. Mom and I would pluck them together. She stuffed them with her own wild rice stuffing recipe. I remember the only drawback was finding buckshot in my dinner plate. Still, I felt rich because we were so special and always had plenty. By the time I was twelve, I got the clue that things were really tight and that I shouldn’t ask for a long grocery list of things at Christmas. I was the one who clued in the rest of the kids that they should only ask for two things they really wanted. Anything else we got was pure luxury.

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Turkeys and Trees

As the years went by and my parent’s finances got better, the pheasants turned into turkey and the tree got bigger. The presents were more and more often store-bought rather than homemade, but I didn’t think that made them better presents. We always had nice things to wear because my mother could sew our clothes, and my father could make us things. The four of us were well treated in plenty and in lack.

Christmas is for children. But it is for grownups too. Even if it is a headache, a chore, and nightmare, it is a period of necessary defrosting of chill and hide-bound hearts.

— Lenora Mattingly Weber, Extension

I'm on the tricycle.

I'm on the tricycle.

View The Past

I think the children my husband and I raised didn’t have a clue about real lack. They expected a dozen or so presents at Christmas and compared what each had to be sure no one was getting more. They protested any perceived favorite treatment and whined if they felt they didn’t get everything they deserved… everything on their list. I remember feeling privileged with a used freshly painted bike to ride, where my girls were upset if it wasn’t the latest and shiniest and newest. Sometimes I wish there were time machines available for just viewing the past so that they could get a glimpse of how things could be for them compared to how things really were for them. But perhaps even that would do no good. I know my girls felt convinced that I was born in the time of horse-drawn carriages and I was living in the past.

One of the most glorious messes in the world is the mess created in the living room on Christmas day.

Don't clean it up too quickly.

— Andy Rooney

I'm the oldest of 4.

I'm the oldest of 4.

Progress

The world is changing and we cannot stop progress. What I want to stop isn’t progress. It is ingratitude, rudeness, and thanklessness. I want my children and grandchildren to learn courtesy, respect, gratitude, and thankfulness. The only way I know to teach such things is to pattern such things in my own life and hope they see and mimic that prototype.

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