I grew up in a colonial with white clapboards and green shutters on a small street in an old neighborhood in a college town in At one end of the street was the college gymnasium and at the other was the football field. I was the fourth of seven children. I arrived within a few months of when my family moved from central ..
It snowed a lot in The snow started to stick around Thanksgiving and by Christmas; the accumulation would exceed my own short stature. When seven kids in the family, Mom would dress us for the elements and send us out to play. We’d be bundle up in our hooded snowsuits with mittens that were attached by a long string that ran up our snowsuit sleeves and across the back inside; a safety string to insurance against the “I lost my mittens” problem. Our galoshes were far from waterproof; so mom collected Wonder Bread bags and put them on over of socks inside our boots. It helped a little. Outdoor playtime in the snow wasn’t just a matter of getting some relief from seven highly energetic kids; it was also an opportunity to get things done, especially in the weeks between Thanksgiving and Christmas. when we were young kids.
Christmas meant excitement beyond imagination. For weeks, four maybe five weeks, everything pointed to Christmas. Mom prepared diligently. First, a wreath with a big red bow went up on the front door right after Thanksgiving as if to say “We’re getting ready for Christmas.” Next, Mom placed the advent wreath with four candles on the kitchen table as the centerpiece and every Sunday after mass we’d light an additional candle. At some point, we’d all write our letters to Santa. It was an exercise of modest desires. Most of the time, Santa brought things we needed such as clothing but every year each kid received one eye-popping unexpected gift from Santa that made Christmas Oh! So much FUN! I remember unwrapping my first two-wheel bicycle. Wow! A shiny red bike!
A week before Christmas we’d drive in our blue Pontiac station wagon to the Boy Scout X-MAS tree sale to pick out our tree. About the word “X-MAS”, even in the early 60’s, well meaning but misguided politically correct language was starting to take hold in our lexicons in small New England college towns. After we got the tree home and secured upright in a tree stand and adorned with a multitude of strings of little white lights, we all got to pick out our favorite ornament and put it on the tree. We finished the job by hanging hundreds of shiny red ball ornaments from very small ones at the top to big ones at the bottom. Finally, Dad would put the angel up. Every year, we lost a few red glass globes: They didn’t bounce very well.