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Holiday Memories

So I always get nostalgic about Christmastime…

For me, as a child, Christmas always meant Grandmas. Oh how I loved my grandmothers, all of them! I remember often thinking as a child how much I missed my Nana (mother’s mother), who died when I was quite small. But I also remember thinking how lucky I was to have 3 other grandmas… My Grandma Mavis (step mother’s mother), my Grandma Loretta (father’s mother), and my Grandma Joan (father’s step mother). Each of them were very different, but Christmas was one time of the year where they all acted the same – all of them focused on family, love, kindness, and cooking. There were always wonderful family dinners, huge gatherings of aunties and uncles and cousins, and I’d get to go to 3 of these shindigs! Two were close to home, and one always meant a trip to Oregon (And then later Washington) – and to me, Christmas in the Pacific Northwest was magical. It always felt more like Christmas to me than just another day in Southern California. Plus, the one time I remember seeing snow as a child was on the way to Oregon, as we were driving to see the family.

I always loved those big gatherings, and being able to run off and explore my various Grandmas’ treasures – Grandma Loretta had a closed in porch with her exercise equipment, but to a little kid, a tiny trampoline, an exercise bike, and her mysterious mountain of boxes (now I see it was her exercise/storage room, but to a kid who loved to discover STUFF it was amazing. I can’t believe she let us grandkids make such a mess of her Home Shopping Network boxes, most of which were empty of anything but packing peanuts!). Grandma Joan was the collecting type – she loved things that were beautiful and dainty, particularly little crystal animals. She would always remind me to be careful with them, but she also never forbade me from touching them, as long as I was gentle and respectful. Those crystal creatures were as much a treasure to me as any chest of jewels. And my Grandma Mavis was the crafty queen! She loved to decorate her home with beautiful things she made with her own hands. She also started my love of Christmas pajamas (hers were always home made, mine aren’t always!). She also had a wonderful collection of these little clothespin dolls she made herself – I called them “Molly Dolls.” The whys and hows of that name have been lost for years (I was 4 when I named them, and she died when I was 11), but I still have fond memories of her allowing me to set them up in little tableaus, with the Mrs and Mr Claus dolls and all their many daughters (most of the dolls were pioneer girls). When she died, that was one thing I regret not voicing my opinion on – I was given one of them, but I wish I could have had more. Sadly, the one I did get, my little sister knocked the head off of when she was very small. Somewhere I have her body and head, but I haven’t seen it in years (I put it somewhere “special” to fix it, and now it’s who knows where!). They looked a lot like this: http://www.etsy.com/listing/112058082/vintage-clothes-pin-doll

Anyhow, one thing I remember is that all 3 grandmas had homes that smelled delicious when we got there! My memory of Grandma Loretta’s house was a mix of stale tobacco, books, and fresh turkey (yeah, a really odd smell for a Mormon girl like me to relish, who knows?). My Grandma Joan’s house always smelled like warm rolls and cookies at Christmas time. And Grandma Mavis’ home smelled best of all – she was the one who would either put out dishes of dried potpourri, or would cook pans of it on the stove. I remember one year I tried to eat some of the potpourri liquid, it smelled so good – but taste = not so good. BLEH. So this year, I’m putting some home made potpourri in my Crock Pot and hoping to start some Christmas Nostalgia memories for my own kids…

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