Service of Holiday Memories

December 20th, 2012

Categories: Gifts, Holiday Memories

Nephew and niece, Edward & Alison

Nephew and niece, Edward & Alison

Vicki Hidalgo, an officemate, made delicious cookies–her late Aunt Bessie’s Christmas recipe—as a gift to us all. They lasted minutes as word spread about how amazing they tasted.

Vicki Hidalgo

Vicki Hidalgo

She told me that as a child, the family would gather for the holiday at her grandmother’s home. Her grandmother had seven children so on Christmas day, at 5 pm, after the 40 adults and children had finished her farina pudding, they’d open presents. Under the tree, along with the gifts, were beautifully wrapped packages of cookies which Aunt Bessie had marked for every guest. Vicki said, “We couldn’t wait until we got permission to open the cookies!” Now that’s the sprit of Christmas.

I’d wait for my mother to wake up on Christmas morning to see what Santa put in my Christmas stocking. She acted as delighted as I was with each miniature surprise, wrapped in tissue paper and chosen to fit in the red stocking with my initials embroidered on the white cuff.

Do you have Christmas or Hanukkah memories to share?

9 Responses to “Service of Holiday Memories”

  1. Lucrezia Said:

    None whatever. Now that that’s over, kudos should be made to all families, including mine, who welcome friends and strangers to participate in seasonal festivities. In some circles, far too much emphasis is made on the “family only” aspect, which leaves many would be guests to struggle with the holiday season alone. It’s small wonder that suicides and related horrors crest during such seasons. The true spirit of any holiday should be one that welcomes all. Ideally, such warm and fuzzy feelings should prevail throught the year.

    Merry Christmas! Happy Hanukkah!

  2. DManzaluni Said:

    No but there was a segment yesterday on the ultimate holiday memory of all time: Someone discovered a series of recordings made in 1902-1904 of a family in North London welcoming in Christmas and singing Christmas songs/carols. The earliest known such recordings!

  3. Jeanne Byington Said:


    I’m all for your idea, Lucrezia. When I was an Air Force wife far from home and family I always had a house full for holidays, sometimes almost strangers, airmen my husband knew but I’d never met.

    If my family was 40-strong as Vicki’s grandmother’s was, and my apartment or home also small, having more people would represent a squeeze, but somehow, especially with a big family like that, there’s always room for a few more.

  4. Jeanne Byington Said:

    Wow, DManzaluni,

    My sister and I were asked to sing into a recorder and the result was sent to France where our father’s family lived and in return the family in France sent us Christmas messages–I seem to remember a recording of a party they had. I don’t recall what our parents said…I was such a nervous wreck singing [I don’t sing well] and reciting whatever I was asked to do so that my performance [?], and my sister’s beautiful, clear voice, are all I remember.

  5. Martha Takayama Said:

    I adored being taken by my grandmother to downtown Boston to see the Enchanted Village and Santa Claus at Jordan Marsh a landmark department Store, as well as all the other Christmas displays.

    I was very happy to go to Christmas concerts for young people in Boston’s New England Mutual Hall and and Harvard University’s Sander’s Theater.

    Singing Christmas carols with and receiving ribbon candy from several grade school teachers is also a very fond memory.

    I also remember potato “latkes” and dreidels, and Chanukah songs, and anticipating Christmas catalogues hoping that I might get a Madame Alexander doll present.

    Please note that my family is Jewish, but in those less complicated and, I suppose politically less correct times, I remember thinking that I was lucky to share in as much festivity as there was in the world around me

  6. Jeanne Byington Said:

    People are more relaxed about sharing each other’s traditions these days and far more sensitive yet I still get annoyed when someone says “Happy Holiday” to me at Thanksgiving or if they know I celebrate Christmas. I wish a Happy Hanukkah to friends who celebrate it and I don’t wish them a fuzzy holiday greeting.

  7. Jeremiah Said:

    My memory is from 1955, the last Christmas I ever spent in my parents’ home.

    They lived at the time in Madrid, Spain, then a country still very much under the iron grip of Francisco Franco’s fascist dictatorship, supported by an unholy alliance between the military, the then still powerful aristocracy and the ultra-conservative pre-Pope John XXIII Catholic Church.

    No religion but Catholicism was openly practiced in the country. However, the British Embassy had the right by ancient treaty to maintain a Church of England Chapel within its grounds and a priest on its staff, and did.

    We were not a family, which regularly practiced any religion, but that Christmas Eve, my mother and I attended the most meaningful of Midnight Masses at that small British Embassy Chapel. There was no professional choir, the organist was an amateur and the sermon was bumbling, but I came away from the service feeling like I had experienced something akin to what the early Christians must have experienced under the Romans.

    Between then and now, I have lived and travelled in many intolerant countries, but nothing since has brought home to me as clearly the meaning of the words, “Freedom of Religion.”

  8. Jeanne Byington Said:


    Amen. Can’t add to your conclusion–it’s perfect.

  9. Martha Takayama Said:

    Jeremiah, what a beautifully written anecdote and what a powerful and positive memory. Thank you for sharing it,

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