Thursday, December 12, 2013

Memories and Keepsakes of Christmases Past

Revisited from my post "Christmas Keepsakes and Memories" @ The Barn Door

When I was a little girl, I can remember going to a Christmas party every year at the local Moose Club. There was food, games, Christmas Carols, and then a very special visit from a "Jolly Old Elf." Every little boy and girl got to meet Santa Claus, sit on his lap and tell him what we wanted for Christmas. We would also each get a Christmas present from Santa. The adults would also buy raffle tickets and they would have drawings for prizes. But it was the Christmas of 1968 that my grandpa Johnny won what was to become my most favorite Christmas item. 

I was three years old at the time, and while I don't remember the event, I've been told that Grandpa was adamant about taking me to the Christmas party. Now, one thing you must understand... Grandpa Johnny was a rough sort of man. He was a former Marine who fought in WWII. So his voice was loud and gruff when he spoke. And he didn't care what he said or to whom, except to one... me (I was his only grandchild at the time). Apparently this particular year, Grandpa had bought some raffle tickets because he had his eye on this little angel that played Silent Night. I say "little" but in reality, she is a good sized figure. However, Grandpa bought the tickets, and when the drawing took place, guess who had the winning ticket? I did.

I came home from the Annual Moose Club Christmas Party with not only a present from Santa, but the most beautiful, musical Angel. My mother sat her out on the table for me, wound her up, and let her play her tune as she spun round and round. 

I loved looking at her fuzzy, snow white dress, creamy complexion, blond hair, blue eyes, halo, and white lace wings, complete with gold stars. In one hand she held a tiny bell. Round and round she went as the precious tune tinkled on. As the wind-up wore down, she stopped playing and stood still. Year after year, Mom would put my little angel out, wind her up, and let her play. And year after year, the box she came in got more and more tattered, and my little angel got darker and darker. 

Grandpa passed away in 1983, just a few short months before I got married. Still, we put my little angel out and wound her up, probably more for sentimental reasons and in memory of Grandpa than as a decoration for Christmas. But nonetheless, she came out.

My little Christmas Angel... The picture is my grandpa
in his Marine uniform, when he was in his 20's
When I got married in June of 1983, Mom gave me my little Christmas Angel, reminding me that "Grandpa Johnny won that for YOU." So every year at Christmas, when my husband and I would put our Christmas decorations out, we would hang the first ornament on the tree together, an ornament with "Our First Christmas" and the date on it. Then we would get out my little angel, wind her up, and listen as she played her little tune. And in my sentimental state, I would cry.

My three kids have all gone through the "ritual" year after year, of watching their mom put out the angel, wind her up, and let her play. When they were small, I would tell them the story of how I got her and who got her for me. I watched as their little eyes would light up when I pulled her out of the box, unwrap her, straighten her wings, then wind her up.

My Grandma Ann & Grandpa Johnny
Both, precious memories now, too.

My mother is gone now, too. My kids are all grown up and moved out. I also have two grandsons now. And my poor little angel is 45 years old this year. Her box is long gone, having disintegrated many years ago. Her white dress is now a dingy yellowish grey. Her wings are faded and droopy, although I have tried to wire them back up. Her halo is also droopy and grey. But she is still the most beautiful thing to me. I leave her out all year now instead of putting her away. My reasoning is that I want to enjoy her more than just once a year. I also want everyone else to enjoy her. Occasionally, I will wind her up to hear her play her little tune. And every time I look at her I remember my Grandpa Johnny and smile... sometimes with a tear in my eye.

What is your favorite Christmas memory?

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Karla Akins said...

I am so blessed by knowing how very loved you were as a little girl. What a precious, precious memory! And what a legacy you've given your children. How precious and priceless.

I don't think I have a favorite Christmas memory for various reasons I'd rather not go in to. I just realized that when you asked that question. Hm. Something I need to think about.

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