As I begin to write this piece about holiday memories, memories of Christmas' past flash through my brain like a high speed train flying past small towns in the country side. I see snippets of joyous Christmas experiences with my own kids over the years but I'm whisked way back in time - I think I was about 6 - to a small town nestled in the snow covered mountains of frigid, north-central Pennsylvania where I grew up.
It was Christmas Eve and my sister and I were beside ourselves with anticipation. As my parents shooed us into the car following the Christmas Eve service at the Millville Christian Church, talk of stopping by my grandparents house surfaced. I always looked forward to a visit to their house because my grandmother, Grammie to us kids, always had a treat for us. Soon after we arrived, she pulled out the tray of homemade Christmas cookies. They weren't the kind we sometimes make in today's kitchen - you know, the varieties that are almost too pretty to eat - no, these were peanut butter cookies, chocolate chip cookies, oatmeal and sugar cookies, and, I'll always remember her specialty - date pinwheels. Somehow, because Grammie had made them, they were delicious.
The car turned into my grandparent's driveway and my sister and I scrambled out (this was before seat belts!) and dashed up the side porch steps and into the house, slamming the door behind us. I still remember the small silver artificial Christmas tree my grandparents had in their living room. Next to the tree was a special multi-colored light that revolved, casting a red, green and blue light onto the tree in turn. There were presents under the tree waiting to be opened in a few hours. Could one of them be mine?
This particular night, instead of collecting presents from under the tree for my sister and me, Grammie headed out of the room and up the stairs. My sister, who is two years younger, and I expectantly waited at the bottom of the steps. We could barely contain our excitement. What was Grammie doing, we whispered?
Within a few minutes, our grandmother returned and in her hands were the most beautiful beds for our dolls I had ever seen. I can still see them in my mind's eye - baskets covered with yards of pink dotted swiss fabric, complete with blankets, a matching spread and pillow. She had sewn a small coverlet that draped over the padding that she had lovingly installed inside the baskets to form a bed out of tomato baskets. I still remember how I thought these were the most beautiful toy I had ever received! My sister and I couldn't wait to get home and put our dolls in them.
Of course, at the time I didn't realize how much time, effort and love my grandmother had spent making something unique for us girls. I'm quite sure the beds didn't survive the following year intact, but I can conjure up that memory of my surprise and elation as my grandmother descended the stairs with those baskets in hand. Although my grandmother passed away some 20 years ago, I can still recall her laugh and I am reminded of the smell of cookies baking in her house - all reminiscent of the love that she showered on me.
May your holidays be filled with warm, happy memories and with opportunities to create new ones!