I was thinking about my Dad and Mom a lot today. I don’t know if I miss them more this time of year, or if the memories are so much closer to the surface because of the holidays. My parents both loved Christmas and everything that goes along with it.
I was thinking back again on the silver Christmas tree and color wheel I wrote about that my Dad loved so much. I found a great picture on a very cool blog — Suburban Pop. I emailed Jenny to see if I could use the photo here and she was so kind to allow me to do so. Please check out her blog and this post on Buying a Vintage Aluminum Christmas Tree for more beautiful examples of these trees. They all remind me of my dad. (Thank you, Jenny!)
Daddy, Daddy, Daddy
My Dad could be well… a little overboard at times. At Christmas, he would put out lots of lights outside and lots of lights on the trees inside. He was such a kid at heart. He took home movies and bless his heart, he could NOT wait until Christmas morning to open gifts. We always opened them on Christmas Eve which made Christmas day a little anticlimactic to me.
We had a 33 1/3 record of a theatre production of A Christmas Carol. We listened to it so much I had it memorized. If I close my eyes, I can still hear the inflection of the actors’ voices as they played each of the roles.
One Christmas Eve, my Dad decided everyone in the community would love to listen to this as much as we all did. He rigged up some huge speakers in front of my grandmother’s house and blasted that recording for everyone to hear. I was fairly young so I do not remember the reaction of our neighbors, but I cannot imagine they loved it. Daddy did, though.
I grew up in a small valley community nestled in the mountains. It was a small community of people and celebrations of any kind often included the entire community. We had a ‘community club’ which was originally a one-room school my mother taught in for a short time.
Parties were always held there and it was fun to gather the entire community together. For holidays, we often had cake-walks. If you are not familiar, it is an old tradition where community members baked cakes and donated them for the cake-walk. Long tables would be set-up end-to-end and one cake would be placed on the table. Participants would buy a ticket and line up around the perimeter of the table. Then someone would start the music and everyone walked around the table until the music stopped. If you were the person standing beside the cake when the music stopped, it was yours to take home and enjoy. I LOVED cake-walks.
I have such fond memories of my parents when we played parlor games. They were great at playing them and always so much fun to watch.
One of my favorites was Poor Ole Puss or Poor Ole Tom. Everyone sat in a large circle and one person would be Tom. They would get on the floor and meow trying person after person to get the person to laugh. The person sitting would have to pet Tom’s head and say Poor Ole Tom three times without laughing. My parents were hilarious!
We also had a game we called Diseases and Cures. The game was played in much the same way with opposing people. One person would say they had a disease and the other person would give them a cure. They were ridiculously named diseases and even more bizarre cures — all made up by some creative mind. The only disease I can remember was ‘Tizarism of the Bizarrium’. Again, the idea was to keep a straight face throughout.
There were many others: Scissors Crossed or Uncrossed, The Suitcase Game, Going to California, Tommy Tommy Tommy. I think they were fun because we didn’t have a lot of other distractions like television (we only had one TV station and the reception was poor) and didn’t have telephones for a long time.
The best thing about these games is they were inclusive — kids and adults. And everyone laughed and had fun. I know this is an era that is long gone, but it will live forever in my memories. Especially picturing my parents playing like they were kids. I can still picture them and it always makes me smile.
Our family continued to play some of these games or variations of them well into our adulthood. Even our children learned some of them. I know in some small towns or at county fairs, you can still sometimes find a cakewalk. That does my heart good.
“Community is a sign that love is possible in a materialistic world where people so often either ignore or fight each other. It is a sign that we don’t need a lot of money to be happy–in fact, the opposite.”