Christmas at Our House
Volume VIII, Issue Four | December 2013
When I was a child, we celebrated Christmas on Christmas Eve. After dinner, which was usually ham with those wonderful mashed sweet potatoes covered with melted marshmallows, we read Bible verses, sang carols to my accompaniment on the piano—I played badly—and said a prayer. Santa came overnight, but we opened the presents from relatives and friends on Christmas Eve.
Most of my friends opened their presents on Christmas Eve, too. In fact, my friend Karen even received her presents from Santa that night. Following dinner, her father took the family out to see the Christmas lights, while her mother stayed behind, probably using the excuse that she had to wash the dinner dishes. When Karen returned, lo and behold, Santa had come. She’d just missed him. It happened every year. I wonder if she ever figured that out.
There was the Christmas we went to Gram and Grandad Dana’s in Moline, where all Mom’s family lived. The house was filled with grandparents, great-grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins. The gifts were simple. I don’t remember the presents, but I remember the excitement of being with so many people I loved.
For years after I was married, we celebrated with family, mine and my husband’s. But then our grandparents and then our parents died. Others scattered. So now, Christmas is just our own family—in Georgetown.
Georgetown is like a Christmas card village. I’ve written before about how magical it is with the snow draped across the fences, the houses lighted, the town decorated with greens and lights, and even a lighted tree high up on the mountain.
The town celebration starts with Christmas Market. People come from all over to see St. Nicholas and the Santa Lucia girls who come down the street in their white dresses trimmed in red and green, carrying candles. There’s a bonfire in the downtown park and booths that sell cider and coffee, breads and pastries and bratwurst, along with hand-made goods. The shops of course, are all decorated, and there is a horse-drawn wagon to take visitors through the town. Christmas Market this year is Dec. 7 and 8, 14 and 15.
My favorite pre-Christmas activity is the cantata, some 30 singers who perform at the Presbyterian Church on Dec. 1 and again the week after New Year’s at the Catholic Church. You wouldn’t think that a town the size of Georgetown would produce so many wonderful voices, but people there are musically talented. I’m glad that Bob will be among them this year, and I’m sure everyone is glad that I will not.
Most Christmases, our reduced family gathers on Christmas Eve. The Bride’s House (and gazebo) are decorated on the outside with white lights and silver stars and on the inside with handmade adornments, such as the wreath our grandson, Forrest, made for us. My decorating skills leave something to be desired, but no matter, because at Christmas, everything looks good.
After dinner, we attend the Christmas Eve service at the Presbyterian Church, which is lighted with candles and smells of evergreens. Then we walk home over snow-packed streets and try to get Forrest to go to bed, because we know he will be up early.
I hear him creep down the stairs in the early morning and rush to his stocking on the fireplace. Then he wakes everyone to announce that Santa has come.
This year, Povy and her family will travel to Asia, so our gathering at the Bride’s House will be just Bob, Dana, and me. But no matter. We don’t all have to be together to celebrate that day of love and peace. We share Christmas in our hearts. —SD
In Kansas City with Willa
Bob and I attended the Women Writing the West convention in Kansas City in mid-October, where I received a Willa Award for True Sisters and was an award finalist for The Quilt Walk. It was gratifying to see how women bond and support each other. I always urge any woman who asks for advice on writing to join WWW because the organization is not only educational but nurturing. The diverse styles, subject matter and formats women employ in their writing is impressive. The conference is also fun, and it’s spawned enduring friendships. One of the highlights was spending a few minutes with my dear friend, Jane Kirkpatrick, whose books I love.
Signing books at the Houston International Quilt Festival with
Arlene Satchitano, Marie Bostwick, and Clare O’Donohue.