Monday, December 24, 2018

An Illustrated Story for you on Christmas Eve

 When I was growing up, my family always opened our gifts on Christmas Eve, after dinner and bathtime and admonition to stay upstairs until Santa Claus had made his early stop and was jingling a good-bye, the signal for us to rush down to see what was under the tree.  We began this custom because Dad worked on Christmas Day, but he only had to do that two or three Christmasses. There was no switching over for us, though. We kids never wanted to wait the extra twelve hours, and I think my parents appreciated the focus this tradition brought to Christmas Day itself: in our family, that day began with Christmas Mass followed with a big English breakfast cooked by my Dad; it culminated in the groaning feast that had us all loosening waistbands even as we passed our plates for another helping. . . .

So this story, a story of opening a Christmas gift (or, as it turns out, two), is a story of Christmas Eve. I've told it here before, quite a few years ago, and if you haven't forgotten it, I hope you won't mind a re-telling, this time with illustrations. . . .
Transcription
 1st frame: Although I really wanted a radio for the little car I'd bought (to commute to university), my Christmas request in 1970 was for winter boots in this style popular at the time -- mukluk-shaped, not really practical in the wet climate of the Pacific Northwest. The oldest of twelve, I knew my parents couldn't afford boots & radio. . . 

2nd frame: So I was grateful, if not surprised, to open a box and see a pair of blue boots.
But after I'd tried on the boots, my Dad pointed to an envelope with my name on it. . . 




3rd frame: In the envelope, a note from my Dad that sent me out to the garage where my little Sunbeam Imp was parked.
And on its front seat, a box. . . 

4th frame: I had it "installed" a few days later, a hole drilled through the hood for the antenna. . . .
snow boots and a radio -- a Christmas I'll never forget. . . 

Postscript: Only in recent years has it occurred to me that my mother might not have loved her role in this story . . . 

And with that, may I wish you all the joys of the season. My son, daughter-in-law, our granddaughter (3), and newly crawling grandson arrive in a few hours, and then we'll all head out to a gathering of my siblings, their spouses, and a goodly array of nieces and nephews and their partners, a grand-niece for my grandkids to play with. My sister expects about 40 of us -- there are still at least 20 of us who won't be there, living or travelling too far away,  and I can't help thinking of the way, when Dad was out with five or six of us kids, back in the day, and someone complimented him on his family, he'd be sure to point out that this was only half -- he had another bunch at home just as good! Big families!

We'll have thirteen around the table tomorrow in our relatively small condo (and no, I don't think that's unlucky at all! -- but just in case, the little guy won't actually be at the table, but in a high chair right nearby).  And then when everyone goes home on Boxing Day, I think I'm going to curl up in a corner with a book or two. I may not chat with you again until after New Year's. But I'll think of you and look forward to our friendship and conversation continuing. . . Meanwhile, though,
Merry Christmas! and a Happy New Year!

And Peace, let's all find ways to Bring Peace to All!

25 comments:

  1. Wow! You're the oldest of twelve children -- I did not know that. I'm the oldest of seven, and that was too many for me. ;)

    Merry Christmas, Frances. I hope this season of celebration is one that's remembered and recalled by you and your family for decades to come.

    Ann in Missouri

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    1. It's a significant number, isn't it, and it definitely shaped (and continues to shape) me.
      Thanks for the lovely Christmas wishes. I hope yours was rich in memories that consoled you in your loss and that it set out new joyful traditions for your future.

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  2. Merry Christmas, Frances! Have a wonderful time with family, and enjoy your well-deserved reading time afterward.

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  3. And your illustrations are charming!

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  4. It sounds like you've got an awesome Xmas planned - and what a terrific story. What a joy it must have been to have warmth on your feet and music for your heart. Best to you and your family, Frances.

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  5. Merry Christmas Mater! Have a wonderful and joyous celebration with your family. Love the Christmas story with the accompanying illustrations. A beautiful gift and your story made my eyes get a bit misty with memories of my own dad. Merry Christmas and a great New Year! From the oldest of eight. xxx Amelia

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    1. Thanks, Amelia. It's a special role, isn't it, oldest of so many. Happy New Year!

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  6. Nice illustrations - but why did your mother not love her role in the story?

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    1. Yes, I have the same question too.

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    2. She doesn't have one here, does she? I tended always to associate my dad with the gift-giving. .

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  7. I remembered the story,but nevertheless, it is always so touching ,special and beautiful and the illustrations are lovely
    Enjoy the holidays with your family as well as Boxing Day afterward
    Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to everyone
    Dottoressa

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  8. Happy Christmas, Frances. May your time with family be joyful. Thanks for sharing your illustrated Christmas story.

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  9. I wish we still did the big Christmas back home with siblings and partners and nephews and nieces and all. I miss that. I love how you've photographed your journal story on your new linen tea towel. The illustrations are perfect. How much fun you must have had doing that.
    Merry Christmas, to you and Paul and all your family. xo

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    1. Ah, you spotted the linen torchon -- good eyes! ;-)
      Our Christmas Eve celebrations were crazy fun, a bit overwhelming, tbh -- well over 40 of us -- and so much food!

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  10. Peace to all and thank you so much for your friendship.

    We just returned from a Christmas Eve and morning with 19 people - 13 of us the sibling families. In the end, it was lovely <3.

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    1. And I can so easily imagine your boots from your illustrations:). xox.

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    2. Wonderful, that you could gather for both Christmas Eve and Christmas morning with 18 loved ones. . .
      I wonder if that same style of boots ever trended the same way as far down as SF? They were truly a ridiculous proposition in the Pacific NorthWest -- barely water-resistant, definitely not waterproof, with a good half inch of fleece inside to soak up the rain and make a lovely squelch! ;-)

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  11. Greetings from a reader in QLD Australia. Mater, I have been reading your blog for some time now yet have never commented. So, as we ring in 2019 I though it high time to thank you for all your words. Often thought provoking, inspirational, uplifting (one recent post got me out of the doldrums), humourous - and then there's travel, fashion and reading. I hope 2019 is a year filled with hope, good health, love and laughter for you and yours. I am looking forward immensely to your posts to come. Warmest wishes Katherine

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    1. Katherine, thank you so much for taking the time to leave these words of thoughtful praise and encouragement. You'll never know how much they mean. I hope, having left your first comment here, you might perhaps join in more of the conversation here, but if not, I'm so pleased to know you're out there reading and finding my efforts here worthwhile. All the best for 2019!

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I'd love to hear your response to my post. Agree, disagree, even go off on a tangent, I love to know you're out there, readers. Let's chat, shall we?

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