Advent Calendar: The Lost Pajamas

(Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories Day 10: Gifts)

As I wrote about my doll, Tippy Toes, for the Smile for the Camera Edition #19, I thought I’d bring back my story about Grandma’s pajamas.  Though the pajamas weren’t necessarily my favorite gifts to receive (what five year old dreams of pajamas?), but they do bring back some of the warmest memories.

It was a tradition to receive handmade pajamas from Grandma Lassalle.  It was also a tradition for Grandma to lose a couple sets every year…

My Grandma was a fine seamstress.  She sewed everything.  Each year she made pajamas for all the grandkids.  That was alot of kids, let me tell you!

We were expected at Grandma and Grandpa’s house on Christmas Eve.  We’d eat some food and open gifts.  It was our once a year get together with all the cousins.

The scene inside was always the same.  Cousins scattered throughout the house.  Uncle Vernon quizzing my brother on math.  My Aunt Julie helping Grandpa get in place to play Santa.

The living room was always the same with the fake tree with with a rotating light spinning red and green on the tree.  It was very modern and somewhat mesmerizing.

And, there was Grandma searching through the packages.  She wasn’t checking to see if her name was on any tags.  Nope!  Every year Grandma lost someone’s pajamas.  Sometimes they were in the wrong box.  Sometimes hidden in her bedroom.  And, sometimes the recipient didn’t get their pajamas until Spring.

It’s one of my fondest memories.  It makes me smile because I’m a little absent minded like Grandma.  I’ve lost presents before.  We draw names and I’ve bought presents for the wrong people.  So, when I laugh at poor ol’ Grandma and her lost pajamas, I’m laughing at me too.  I guess some things are handed down.


The Year Our Outdoor Decorations Almost Downed Airplanes

(This is day 5 of the Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories: Outdoor Decorations…In Memory of my Dad)

When I was growing up in the late 1960s and early 1970s, almost everyone in our neighborhood put up Christmas lights.  Each house had one strand of big colored light bulbs and that was that. We had two decorations.  A Snowman and a Santa Calus that looked like they were made out of pasta and then were painted.

Towards my late teens the mini bulbs came out–and they blinked!  Oh, how we begged my Dad to buy some and put them on the house.  But, he wouldn’t budge.  He didn’t have time for such nonsense.

Then all white lights came into vogue.  I wasn’t thrilled with them, but my Mom and sister were.  So, we put up white lights…lots of them…on the house, on the garage, on the bushes.  It was so bright that they glowed inside the house.  Many of our neighbors couldn’t wait for us to go to bed at night and turn off the darn lights.  I’m fairly sure that pilots used us as a marker to find the Oakland Airport.  That year we were given the nickname “Little Reno” because you couldn’t miss all the brightness.

My Dad would fuss and holler about doing all this “damn work for nothing”.  But then something happened.  He got some grandkids.  Suddenly, decorating the outside of the house was not a chore, but a feast to behold.

He bought lights that blinked and played music.  He added some wooden figurines to the fence.  Then a lighted Santa and sleigh were hung from the front porch eaves.  Candy canes magically appeared up the walk way.  A plastic choir lit up the right side of the lawn.  A lighted snowman tipping his had perched upon a box.  Little wooden reindeer danced around the box.  Each year more and more decorations littered the lawn to “please the grandkids”.  The last thing added was an inflatable merry go round.

Because of health problems, my Dad can’t put out everything he’d like to.  Now the grandkids come and they decorate for Grandpa.  Because, in reality, Grandpa doesn’t do it just for the grandkids.  He does it so he can share it with the grandkids.


Advent Calendar: Christmas Cards

(This is day 4 in the Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories)

I remember sitting down and watching my Mom write out Christmas cards.  They went to family and friends, some we hadn’t seen all year, but they were remembered with a card.

I used to wait eagerly each day to see what cards came in the mail.  It was so much fun to see the different stamps and then see what kind of card the person sent.  Was it one of the stodgy gold cards or was it a cute one with Santa and animals?

My Mom gave me a humongous book with a vinyl cover.  It had thin, grey pages.  Each year, she would glue in the cards I received for Christmas.  As I got older, I did it myself.  I filled up the book in six grade with a mix of Christmas, birthday, and other greetings.  I can still remember a couple of cards like the Santa that I took a red ink pen to.  There are cards from my grandparents in that book too.

When I was getting ready to move this Summer, I found my vinyl greeting card book.  My goodness, was it packed with cards–and letters!  It was fun to look through them and bring back those memories.

I do send out Christmas cards to friends and family.  Usually I make the cards on my computer using a silly photo of one of the dogs.  I am not so certain I will do cards this year.  My Dad’s passing away has eating up alot of time and emotion this year.  The thought of sitting down and doing cards seems like another hassle.  Hopefully, as the season gets underway, I will get more in the spirit.

For the Pacheco-de Braga side of the family, I also include a yearly newsletter.  This newsletter isn’t about me.  It’s about them.  The first part includes different bits of news cousins have sent me all year long.  The second half includes genealogy information–usually a new discovery and then a little taste of genealogy data that everyone can share in.

I still enjoy waiting for the mail to come during the holiday season.  Now along with the cards, I get photos of distant cousins, cards with little notes, and family newsletters which all make their way into my genealogy binders.  So, in a way, I do still save those cards, but now they become a part of family history.  Someone will appreciate my efforts one day as I appreciated my Mom making the greeting card book for me.