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The other day while the Sweetie and I were listening to “Holiday Classics” on Sirius radio, the host promised us music from “a kinder, gentler time.” When I remember my 1950s childhood in small Nebraska towns, the images I remember and the music I hear are, indeed, kinder and gentler.
Christmas season officially began with the 7:00 p.m. grade school Christmas Concert in the high school gym. Santa, Rudolph, and Frosty shared billing with Mary, Joseph, and Baby Jesus. We sang “Up on the Housetop” in between “Oh Little Town of Bethlehem” and “Joy to the World.” The Principal donned a white beard, red suit, and black snow boots to pass out toy guns to the boys and baby dolls to the girls who stood on wooden bleachers set up on the stage. School let out after the class party where we ate homemade cookies and candy, drank chocolate milk, and exchanged gifts with our secret pal. Everyone brought the teacher a present—she could count on chocolate-covered cherries, cologne or a rhinestone pin from the dime store, a Christmas hanky, anything with an apple on it, and hand lotion.
At home we frosted sugar cookies, pulled taffy, and made penuche for Daddy—he was the only one who liked it. On December 19, Nikki’s birthday, we got a fir tree from the Lions Club tree lot across from the bank, set it up in a red metal tree stand, and decorated it with bubble lights, tinsel, and glass balls. Each afternoon as it was becoming dark, my Mom would turn on the tree lights, put a Christmas 78 on the record player, and sit with us on the couch as we listened to the music and watched the day disappear.
So put down your device, turn on the tree, play Joni Mitchell’s River, snuggle up with your sweeties, and create a kind, gentle Christmas moment.