By Joanne Boettcher-Verigin
Originally published in Biosis #31
Time seems to go so slowly when youre a kid, especially as the holidays approach. Remember when the time between Halloween and Thanksgiving seemed like months, and from then til Christmas or Hanukkah seemed like forever?
When I was a girl, my family’s yearly great adventure was a trip to Seattle just after Thanksgiving to see the wonderful decorations in the big department stores. We didn’t have a lot of money to spend in those stores, but the holiday spirit was a gift in itself.
Also exciting was the arrival of the Sears Christmas catalog. My sister and I would spend hours going over the toy section in minute detail, making x’s alongside those things we just didn’t think we could do without.
TV was still in the future, and holiday movies in the theaters were few and far between (and when they were around, cost a whopping 25 cents for a kid to see, plus 10 cents for popcorn). But there was holiday programming on the radio, and it was magnificent.
Old time radio has been called the theater of the mind because it inspired listeners to use their imagination. With one click of the dial, you could be transported anywhere – from Pine Ridge, Arkansas for Christmas with Lum and Abner or 79 Wistful Vista with Fibber McGee and Molly, to the North Pole to soar over Santa’s workshop with Superman or Victorian England for Dickens’ A Christmas Carol. Or you could simply enjoy holiday songs on any number of music and variety programs. (Be sure to click the links to hear some episodes for yourself!)
Christmas Eve was when the fun really began. Once the men finished the milking and other chores, family began to flood the house – first for supper and then, at last, opening presents! It was never long before the room was knee-deep in torn wrapping paper and tangles of ribbon.
Even more family arrived on Christmas Day for the big feast and time to enhance the family bonds that give a kind of security no other bond does. We kids played and argued and ate all the candy we could. The men helped the kids with the electric trains, and the aunts helped dress the dolls with clothing they had made throughout the year. Meanwhile, Mother, in her Christmas apron, reigned over the old wood cookstove that produced the perfectly roasted turkey and all the trimmings.
As I look back, I realize how even though times weren’t so easy – it was the Great Depression, after all – the holidays were spent in great joy and celebration. Today’s times are none too easy either. The days of extravagant shopping and spending for holiday gifts are gone for many. But maybe that’s a good thing, a hidden blessing, an opportunity to realize that the most important things in life aren’t things at all but people.
That may sound like a cliche, but consider this: When you think about how you spent your most memorable holidays, what do you remember first and best, the gifts you got or gave, or the people you shared the holidays with?
Wishing you joy, peace and health this holiday season –
and a wonderful start to the new year!
We’ll be back to our regular posting schedule on Tuesday, January 6.
Image by Chapendra, via Flickr