Christmas was a great time for the kids in our little town. We didn’t get many days off during the fall so when we were let out of school the week of Christmas through the New Year, it was a great vacation. We usually had almost 2 weeks off. We all looked forward to the time we could ride our bikes if it wasn’t to cold or snowy or sled if it had snowed.
Across the street from my best friend’s house was a big empty lot that took up half the block. If we had a heavy snow all the kids in town would suddenly show up at her house. My friend’s dad, Leland, worked shift work so he was home during the day sometimes and we all knew if he was home and not sleeping it would be a good day of sledding.
Leland had an old car hood that made a great sled. He would tie the hood of the car to the back of his pickup with a 10’ rope. At least two or three kids at a time would pile onto the upside down hood. We would lie on our stomachs holding onto the front of the hood. Then he would drive in circles or figure eights in the lot.
The hood would make a wide sliding arc when he made the circle and some times it was hard to stay on and we went flying out into the snow rolling over and over and bumping into each other. It was a great time and we all loved the rides he gave us.
Sometimes Leland would take my friend and me for rides down the streets of town on the hood. I think he shortened up the rope when he took us on the streets so he could control it a little better and we weren’t trailing behind so far.
The school Christmas program was performed the evening of the last day that we were in school before Christmas break. We were all glad to see that night come because we were going to have the next two weeks off.
After the program one of our dads, who was in the Booster club, would play Santa and give every kid a sack of candy. It was then official, Christmas was almost here. Santa had come and the sack of candy was our first present.
The sack of candy always contained the same candy every year but it was the sweetest part of Christmas. The sack was hand filled by the Booster Club at the IGA where the candy had been delivered. It came loose in very large boxes. None of the candy then was wrapped. We looked forward to that sack with much anticipation.
The sack was not tied shut or held with tape, it was just twisted shut, and miraculously stayed until we opened it up, even with all the handling to get it to the school and then to hand them out to the kids.
The bottom of the brown paper, sandwich size, sack would be covered with the salted peanuts in the shell. They were not something that I really cared about so I would trade them or give them to dad when I got home.
Then on top of the peanuts was a single orange, no other fruit, just the orange. I am not sure why the Booster Club thought we had to have the orange, but maybe it was their attempt at making the sack a healthy treat.
Next was my favorite, there would be four of the vanilla cream drops that are covered in chocolate. They looked like a rounded triangle or maybe a tear drop. Lots of the kids didn’t like them so I knew who to trade with to get more of them.
There was the ever present ribbon candy, that I also liked, especially the red and green ones. We usually had quite a few pieces of the ribbon candy.
Then the hard candy, some of it had the soft center, there was usually more of this than any of the other candy. I think it was usually a handful and the amount depended on who filled our bag. A lot of the flavors I liked, but again some of them I didn’t, so I did more trading.
Some of the hard candy was shaped like a log and was usually red or green on the outside and the inside was filled with a white hard center. At the ends of the center was a pattern that usually looked like a flower to me that was in the same color as the outside.
Another favorite of mine was the chocolate peanut clusters, but because they were so expensive we only had 2 or 3 in the sack unless there was a mistake made. Sometimes they stuck together and we would get 4 and that was a real treat. By the time we went home we had all traded with the other kids and had the candy we liked and none of the ones we didn’t.
During the Christmas break from school, the kids of the church group would pick a night and go caroling all over town. It was usually snowing or had already snowed so it was really cold. But that was what made it so much fun to kids I guess. We never seemed to mind all the cold and snow.
There were a few houses that we didn’t stop at because the people had been nasty to us in years past and didn’t want us to sing to them. I usually would suggest that we stop anyway, just to aggravate them, but the choir director never thought that was a good idea and we moved on to the next house.
When we had stopped and sang to almost every house in town we would go to the parsonage for hot chocolate and cookies. We really enjoyed the warmth of the home and the reward for our hard work.
These three things were rituals and they made it a sweet Christmas for me. To contact Sandy: [email protected]