Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Christmas Caroling - Traditions of Christmas

We have a family in our church congregation that is SUPER talented! They often share their talent on the violin in our meetings. This year, they delivered us a Christmas card and Musical gift from one of our neighbors. I am not sure if the family playing was doing it for a fund raiser or what but it was fun and beautiful!  

It was snowing when they arrived and I have been fighting a migraine all day waking with it due to the snow. I LOVE music and have always had a place in my heart for the violin. While they were playing, in the middle of a song, I had a memory come to me that I hadn't thought about in years. 

When growing up, my mother had us each learn an instrument and we had a family band. My mother is an actress, beauty queen, singer, song writer etc. She LOVES music and performing. She was in the Tabernacle Choir for ten years. She wanted her children to have a love of music. Since I always loved the violin and asked to learn to play it, she got me a violin and lessons. I played the violin for our "Family Band." 

This in itself was an interesting feat since I am missing half of my left pinky. I am right handed and most violin players use the left hand to make the notes on the violin. It was decided that they would try me on the violin and see what I could do. Here is a link to the post sharing how I cut my finger off. When I mentioned that I played the violin in a family band and we would go around on Christmas eve singing and playing music to families, my girls had never heard that and asked each other i"Did you know mom played the violin?" I told them my sister still has my violin. It is not in the best of shape but I was the only family member to play it ever. 

Them coming and playing that for us tonight brought back so many memories. My mother is and was a WONDERFUL mother. I haven't scanned all my childhood pictures but we do have some from slides we went through a few years ago, there are many posts on that. Type in "Family History" in the search box at the bottom of the page and those posts will come up and you can read about how we saved all those movies, recordings and slides. 

While I was searching through my slide scans, I came across many Christmas / winter memories I thought I had better put on paper so my girls will know of them.

My mother owned a costume shop for most of her life. Because she loved to perform and sing, along with owning costumes, our family was always chosen to perform. Sometimes it was OK and other times, we hated it. Usually, the older we got, the more we hated performing with the family. 

The picture of me wearing an "elf" sign was one Christmas, our congregation asked us to perform a skit. We met as a family and threw out ideas. My brother made a "Generic Van" when selling generic food products in white containers without color on them was popular to help cut down on the cost of the food item. Grocery stores would have entire sections of "white" products for sale cheaper than the competition and national brands who paid extra for colored boxes and pictures etc. With 8 children, our family purchased almost all generic brands and our pantry was near entirely white!  

I laughed when I saw that I actually had a picture of our "generic van" which even sported a "UPC" code at the back as that was all that was on the boxes of generic food. The item name and upc symbol. Our family did a "Generic Christmas" skit wearing all white commenting on how Santa would give out generic items. I remember we got lots of laughs for our creativity.

I have to share this tradition here as it was always around Christmas time as well. My mother would enroll us in community education classes for anything and everything. She wanted us to have every experience we could get while growing up. My father usually paid the bill and went along with it as long as he didn't have to do much driving us back and forth etc. 

My mother enrolled us in the "skiing" class. We met at a park and the guy told us techniques on skiing. We had the really old antique skis for even back then and because we were on grass, didn't learn much until the one afternoon they would take us to "graduate" at the ski slopes. From that time on, "Skiing Hooky day" was invented." My mom with her limited funds would take us out of school on Mondays as one of the ski resorts would give discounts on that week day to beef up business. We would all be called in "sick" to school and we would go skiing. This was obvious the next day when we would show up with our racoon face burns as we would always forget sun screen. I don't even know if they had sun screen back then thinking back as we did this since I was about 8 on. I remember sun screen in my teens but never as a child. 

Another year, we went to Mexico over Christmas taking toys to orphans and we camped at the beach for the holiday. It was a long trip with many memories as while we were driving our motor home, I looked over and saw one of our tires pass us on the highway. Another rest stop, our gas tank fell as we were getting out to use the bathroom. I know angels were working over time keeping us safe as we would have died had it fallen while driving. Good thing my brothers spoke fluent Spanish and we had a "run around" car tagging along with us so we could get the parts welded that we needed to fix the problems. 

We also would go and cut down our own tree for years, sometimes with cousins and other times not.You can see that sometimes, the tree would look smaller on the mountain and when we would get it home, it took up LOTS of space. Those memories are all good when we would load up in snow gear to cut down the trees. Ok, truth be told, squatting in the snow is not "all good" as in the middle of nowhere, someone always needed a potty trip and being older, I would get "potty duty" but it is still a fun memory.

Another tradition, we would go sledding with cousins every year until we got older and didn't have time. We had a fun hill out of town in another city but if we had enough snow, we would go down to my grandfathers grainery where there was open space and my dad would pull us behind his blazer on sleds and skis. I have memories of doing that with my cousins as well. We have video of that but I explain below why I can't upload that. 

We also went with the other side of the family to our cabin sledding every New Years. I think these photos may be of the last year we had the party as it got to be too much and we traded out the cabin so that just one Aunt's family owns it now. I miss those parties and am sad that some of these traditions have gone away. I have to share that I had forgotten many of these memories and traditions until I started looking for them after my friends came tonight. I do have many memories of these events with looking at the pictures.

The next tradition is one that both sides of my family will remember with me. When we would have our family Christmas parties, my mother being the musical / theatrical person that she is, made these beautiful artistic posters of the "12 days of Christmas" song and would have the kids hold up the signs and have them lift the sign when it was their turn in the song. We used these for years and I have no idea if they are around as I didn't see them when we cleaned out her house. It is sad as two of my cousins and their mother have passed away since this picture. Good memories mixed with the sadness of loss with this one. 

We also did plays using puppets. My mother had a "stage" made out of wood and had hinges put on it and curtains on a rod and we would go around putting on this puppet show for people at Christmas. We would do it at nursing homes, children's parties and family parties. She wrote a script and we would each get to take turns being different characters and saying the lines when our part came up. Depending on the child's age, they would start with a little non-verbal part. I found that script while going through her stuff and I think it is in a box somewhere. We also have some super 8 video of these things. I just put in one of the videos but can't upload just a section so will have to upload the entire DVD as I have about 13 FULL DVD's  of Super 8 videos so I think I will have to have someone else upload them as my upload speed is SUPER slow. I tested it the other day. 

This is where I am on upload speed. It took me over 2 hours to upload the video at the top.My download speed isn't anything to write home about and I have had the "repair" guy here as the internet goes out about every day especially when it is wet outside. Our neighbors have had him over many times. We are on a first name basis about with how often he comes. I keep asking them to give me a refund for the higher speed I have been paying for since I have NEVER gotten any higher speed but they keep saying they want to wait until the problem is fixed before refunding me so they can give me the entire amount. If that day ever comes, it would be a happy day. 

With that, I will get back to my family traditions. My grandmother Mary went blind due to health problems. Even blind, she knew every grandchild, every birthday and made each grandchild a quilt, crochet afghan, and never forgot a holiday or birthday. That was all while she was blind. Every Christmas, she would write a limerick about each person in the family. She had over 50 grandchildren. She would write the poem in her head about something personal with that person and then would have my aunt go and buy a small item that reflected that aspect of the person's life. If I liked dancing or she heard I had a recital, she would get a dancing figured and write a cute poem / limerick that was about me dancing. They were usually quite funny and got everyone laughing. She remembered all of them with her amazing memory and would recite them by heart at the party while giving out the gifts.

She is in the right corner of the upper picture and in the center of the next picture in red. These are pictures from two different Christmas parties. The picture above is an uncle playing his saw. He was VERY good using a violin bow and would play us songs on many different occasions. I also found a poem my grandmother wrote while going through our history stuff. I am sure it is in the boxes of stuff I have stored but those still need lots of organizing and scanning. 

I have blogged about some other traditions my family has carried over through the years. Some, I have not carried over such as eating a hard boiled egg before being able to see what Santa brought. I don't digest eggs well and have never liked hard boiled eggs but you  can bet I scarfed one down to be able to see what Santa brought. Here is the first post about how we line up. I found the above picture on our scans and don't think I have posted it before. By this time, my grandmother was beyond making pj's so we didn't have the matching pajamas I speak about below. I have lots of posts of my kids lined up as we have been posting for five years now so if you want to see all of them, just type in "line up" in the search box as we do it each Christmas and Easter. 

We also opened home made pajamas from my Grandma Cora. She would get fabric from an old sleeping bag factory and made us all pajamas each Christmas. Here is a post where I talk about that.
We open the pj's on Christmas eve and sleep in them so our "line up" pictures were always cute. I don't know that I have any of those pictures anywhere but I found this picture of Christmas morning of my dad holding my youngest sister and under her robe, she has on one of the nightgowns with deer on it. ha ha. 

I said it was old sleeping bag fabric. I only have one of these pajamas as my mom kept them and gave them to each of her grandchildren but since we lived away etc, I only ended up with one. I love that my mother kept them all. 
That post certainly took a few turns and was super longer than I had planned but now some of my family memories are down and written about so my kids will know about them. Thanks to our "caroler" tonight for taking me down memory lane. I was planning on blogging on windshield repair kits but I think my family will appreciate this post much more. Merry Christmas from our family to yours with the second video at the top and this last video.The second video is the girls after our company left as they decided to make their "own" version of caroling. I laughed very hard when they showed it to me. I hope you find as much enjoyment int is as I did. 


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