Sunday, December 5, 2010

Eighteenth Post - Advent

My earliest memories of Christmas may well be my fondest. Our family was held together by a glue we lovingly called Omie! Omie was my mom's mom and the family matriarch.There were (still are) ten cousins (three girls and seven boys). Christmas celebrations began on Christmas Eve with the entire family attending the yearly Sunday School Christmas Pageant. Our classes would perform, the congregation would sing Carols, and the pastor would give a short sermon which would include the Christmas Story. We'd sit with minimal squirming - our parents may disagree -knowing that at the end of the service all the children would be given a brown paper bag filled to the brim with an assortment of Christmas goodies. The best treat of all was the mandarin orange – what a treasure! I vaguely remember my older brother trying to scam me out of my orange. Once church was over and friends were properly greeted, we'd head to Omie's house to eat and exchange gifts. Uncles, aunts, and cousins would all arrive at similar times. We'd pile our coats high on the bed in Nanny's old room and then gather in the living room. Omie would have her tree decorated and food prepared. Our Christmas Eve feast included  rye bread (from the German Bakery), a baked ham, deli meats including summer and hunter sausage, homemade head cheese, liver sausage, pickled herring (my dad's favourite) stollen, mohnkuchen (poppy seed cake), poppy seed roll, pfeffernuesse  (brown honey cookies) as well as other German Christmas foods. 

1960 (before our two younger
 brothers were born)

Magically,  Christmas Eve would morph into Christmas Day. Off the family would go to another church service (German Baptists really
liked their Christmas Services). I'd snuggle beside Omie, breathing in the smell of her fur coat, which was soft and had the familiar smell of mothballs and cough candies. Christmas dinner was hosted at one of the Auntie's houses. There was a huge turkey dinner, and an afternoon filled with lots and lots of singing and music making around the piano. Those were such precious times.

Random memories of my childhood Christmas:
  • New nighties for all three girl cousins
  •  Marjorie (NOT Barbie) dolls for the girl cousins
  •  Playing in Omie's l o n g hallway
  •  Graduating from the kid's table in the kitchen, to the kid's table in the living room
  •  A flute, trumpet, clarinet, French horn, trombone to accompany the piano 
  •  Singing through Handel's Messiah – most of it anyhow
  • Omie's special Christmas decorations – the 'bird', icicles, and her very special baubles (some of which I still have)
  • Auntie Trudy and Uncle Longin arguing – everyone had an opinion
  • Uncle Rainer describing his newest car – of course the BEST car EVER!
  • Omie's honey cookies
  • Cousins at play
  • Lots and lots of loud laughing and talking

Omie and me at a time other
than Christmas

I'm now in my fifties and have never successfully recaptured the sweetness of my earliest Christmases. If the purpose of Christmas is to celebrate the birth of Christ, we did it in grand style. Omie never made a big deal about talking about Christ's birth, she never preached at us, but I remember vividly that HE was with us. Our celebration was wrapped with love and trimmed with an enduring legacy of warm memories.  Auntie Trudy, Omie, Uncle Longin and Auntie Mildred have all passed away. I suspect they're having their own celebration in the heavenlies. I miss those good old days, but have been blessed with the opportunity to lay down another generation of memories with my own children, who are now passing them on to their children.
And the Gift goes on…………

 Merry Christmas,
 Carol (as in Christmas)

If you want to read other posts on the Virtual Advent Tour, look at the dedicated Virtual Advent Tour blog to see the schedule of postings, including others today.

December 6:
Natasha @ Maw Books


  1. how interesting!
    I had the same haircut and almost all the same memories you have but from Montreal.
    How similar our lives were.:)

  2. I enjoyed your post. Thanks for much for participating in the Advent Tour this year.

  3. What a lot of very nice memories you have of Christmas. The pfeffernuesse also appear in MY Virtual Advent tour (Dec. 4th) but are then called pepernoten!

    We used to get new "good" clothes at Easter, but not at Christmas.

    Thanks for your nice post, I hope this Christmas will be a good one too.

  4. What lovely memories - your description of the smell of a fur coat was so evocative I could almost feel the fur on my face!

  5. Oh! Thank you for sharing this memory with us - it's lovely!

    (Oranges were my favourite treat at Chrsitmas too!)

  6. Sweet memories! When I was little, Christmas day at my grandmother's was a treat. She owned a little general store and let us fill up on whatever we wanted. Fun! . . . I'm stopping in from the Virtual Tour site.

  7. Lovely memories and photographs. We always used to get a tangerine in our stocking - in the toe.

  8. Your Omie sounds like a great woman!

  9. Yes, that is how we all want to do Omie. To share Jesus with others without throwing Him in their faces. Tricky.

  10. Thank you for all your lovely comments. I'm new to blogging and and am enjoying participating in this 'tour'. I'm looking forward to reading the rest of the entries.
    Have a wonderful holiday!

  11. Those early Christmas memories are the best ones. You just can't recapture them no matter what you do. I think that's why they're so special.

  12. What a great post. I hope you're enjoying the holiday season!

  13. Great post! Thanks for joining in! Happy Holidays!

  14. I love so many of your lines (and memories) and the way Omie's coat smelled to you. "And the gift goes on," you say. Oh, how true and oh, how wonderful! You've shared this beautifully; I can see, hear and maybe even smell all the goodies and laughter and festivities!
    Happy holidays to you and yours!

  15. nice memories. i love stollen this time of year. i'll have to google to see what marjorie dolls look like.

  16. What lovely memories! Thanks for sharing and Merry Christmas!