Thursday, December 10, 2009

Christmas Memories and the Attic

Some of my earliest childhood memories are of 'The Attic'.Helping my mother search for Christmas decorations and Lionel trains (still in their original orange boxes).Bubble Lights and colored glass ornaments were hidden back under the eaves of the roof beams. A stream of light lit the way from the small attic windows on either end of the house and snow dusted the ground below as we glanced thru the old windows.From that height, we could see the NYC skyline and the Statue of Liberty. The Empire State Bldg was the attraction that stood out.The World Trade Center & Verrazanno Bridge were not yet built or even thought of in those days.It was doggone cold up there! The floor creaked underfoot since cheaper grades of plywood were used as flooring.Initially , there was no flooring, just beams, until my dad laid some down.Some of my mother's toys, from her own childhood,were stashed away up there under the eaves over the doorway.A metal green and cream colored kitchen set- I think it was a stove or sink.A red wooden doll crib and a weathered colored wicker doll carriage.As we descended the stairs, she cautioned me to "Be careful of that bottle of turpentine" in the long necked glass bottle on the side of the stairway.The attic stairway let out into my bedroom.I was happy because we were decorating for CHRISTMAS!!
"I Remember Mama", was a soap opera on TV at that time.'Papa' took the children out to the barn, in back of the house, to hear the animals talk the second the clock struck 12:00 midnight on Christmas morn.The children of that household hid amongst the haybales until it was midnight and the animals would talk.While that played on TV,my mom rolled out cookie dough that my brothers and I would cut out with cookie cutters.The three of us got a bath in the tub, then my mom curled my hair in these pink plastic things, set us on the couch to watch 'Lassie' with Tommie Reddick & Gramps and peel oranges on a towel just before we were scooted off to bed.Then my dad would set up the trains. Setting up trains was always a pain in the neck and still is. They just won't cooperate!!(I was 6 weeks old when my father bought me my first set of Lionels.You KNOW I needed them then! I still have the engine, but none of the rest of the set.)
The attic I have now is very similar in size and design.I love it because I can shove all kinds of junk up there.Christmas decorations with all its boxes of ornaments,tree trimmings and decorative junk, trains and all of the boxes of accessories,village paraphenalia;Easter baskets;Thanksgiving decorations;Hunting clothes and archery stuff;picture albums,etc,etc.
If you know me, you've already realized I'm a hopeless sentamentalist. I probably have every card my children and grandchildren have ever sent or, especially, made for me.I still have the Christmas Card sent to me by my cousin Bobby ~my first Christmas back in 1949.It has roosted atop all my Christmas trees until this day.I've taken my children and grandchildren's school pictures and placed them into little picture frames to hang upon the tree this year.They stand next to ornaments from WWII, when hooks were made of paper (to conserve metal),and ornaments from my childhood that haven't yet bit the dust.It seems that every year, an ornament or two accidentally falls and smashes to the floor."OH NUTS !! NOT THAT ONE!!" You know the feeling.
I came across some of my mother's keepsakes in the attic as I brought down Christmas decorations.A handful of cards for various occasions were loosely flopping around in an old white plastic bag stuffed in a dusty box,hanging on for dear life.I came across several of her bridal shower cards from her Jersey City Medical Center nursing schoolmates Dec 15th,1948.Her wedding date was New Years Day, 1949. Then I came across this Christmas Card!! It was from my father to her on their First Christmas together, Dec 1949. They had a lot to celebrate!! ME !! Their first Christmas together and a new baby!! (I was born on Nov 18th,1949.And brought home on Thanksgiving!)I read the words on this card. The inside is smudged and discolored but truer words were never spoken as far as they were concerned.This card is beautiful.My parents set a fine example to me and my brothers and sister ,as we grew up,of how a married couple should love each other.My dad NEVER was demonstartive, in fact he crossed out the word "DEAR" on a mother's Day card he gave her.It made him feel 'silly'.It wasn't a word he used .I laughed when I saw that, but I never doubted his love for her for a minute.

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