Updated: May 17
It’s happening… the rush to Christmas is on!
I cherish memories of my childhood as I struggle with the commercialization of most if not all of our current holidays. Traditions, may have gone but those memories linger and dance like the long-ago sugar plums, in my head. As children, the excitement of Christmas pageants, Santa Claus and our wish lists were paramount; as adults we look back with a pleasant hazy view of what we had then. Think about the things that brought you joy as a child; those that came without a price tag.
I grew up in the 50s, a veritable Ozzie and Harriet environment. Too old a reference for you? Try, June and Ward Cleaver. The Brady Bunch? How about “It’s A Wonderful Life?” At least that is shown every year and depicts a fantasy of the old days that cannot be related to today. At any rate, my childhood included the very best of what a small town could offer.
Liberty was a great place to grow up in and enjoy being a kid. If there was a holiday, we celebrated it. Christmas of course, was the most exciting. The first snow had fallen, schools were in play practice, businesses enticed us with their window displays; celebration was in the air. The day after Thanksgiving wasn’t spent in line at the Walmart, but enjoying leftovers and planning our trip to capture the perfect Christmas tree.
Whether we cut our own tree or wandered through the row after row of freshly cut fir trees at a lot or farm, we knew our tree when we saw it. It was the biggest, the fullest and the best; that would fit in our living room. This tree was the taste of things to come. And once December started, things came fast.
In school we were chosen for parts in the Christmas play and began to rehearse our lines; although I recall bleating out “baa” from time to time, wasn’t all that hard to remember. School and church choirs meant rehearsals as well, usually followed by hot chocolate. Now there is a fond memory. Drinking hot chocolate before trudging home in the snow.
I was in plays, choir and dance recitals; mostly due to my Mother. Kids were much more malleable back then. We went along because after all, Santa was watching. I recall my sheep costume, several angels, a shepherd, a ballerina, and an old lady; all costumes made by my grandmother. I was in choir robes more times than I can count and sang loudly at the nursing homes and church, where loud was a substitute for good.
The town itself was transformed into a child’s dream. The lights dangling from each lamp post and the candy cane striped Santa house on the square. Businesses allowed high school students to paint their windows with holiday themes; covering up their wares in order to share the spirt of the day. There weren’t too many places I couldn’t get some holiday cheer in the way of candy, back then. Even the grocery stores decorated. We would drive around in the evenings looking at lights and displays all over town; houses each trying to outdo the next in wattage.
My fond memories of a winter wonderland full of sparkling lights and dazzling displays is revived each year through the eyes of my grandchildren. They too experience the joys and anticipation of the holidays through a never-ending onslaught of commercialism. And we all love it!
(this is a recycled article I wrote in 2017 (Chery Carr Holtman, curator, Clay County Museum .)