My sister-in- law painted this picture of my mom back in the early 80’s. My mom was the epitome of Christmas. She made magic, she was magic. She also made the dress that she wore in this picture and handmade many of our beautiful and fun Christmas decorations, including the stockings you see her hanging by the chimney with such care. She made a stocking for everyone and each year the stockings stretched further and further across the mantel as our family grew in size. I remember how she would sew and wrap and bake, literally for weeks, before Christmas. Our house always smelled like heaven, or at least close to it with all the goodies she baked and cooked each day.
Our home was full of love- deep, lasting, true love. We all felt it. We were safe there, happy together and full of life and spirit when we gathered.
Our Christmas tree was never less than 15 feet tall. It took hours for dad, mom, and all us kiddos to find and chop down, (and quite a little bit to drag into the house along with some major cussing and frustration), and many hours to decorate.
Mom would bake cookies and make homemade cocoa on the stove, and we would decorate all night long, Christmas carols blasting and my mom singing along with her angelic voice. I can still hear her singing me silent night as she hushed me to sleep after a long night of Christmasting. (Side note: my mom was invited to sing with the Chicago Symphony when she was in her 20’s because her voice was wrapped in halos and delivered directly from the angels.)
Me, and my sister high up on the ladder, nearing a much needed bedtime after hours of festive prepping. Don’t laugh- I looked like a little Danny Devito!!
Below is a real photo of my mom in her dress. She would flutter around like Mrs. Claus and finalize the tree with little red bows each and every year.
As you can see- our home was incredibly unique. It started as a boy scout cabin way, way back in time. It was then discovered and built onto by my parents. It became a massive tree house perched high up on the rocks overlooking a gorgeous rushing creek and boulders. They kept the original room and upstairs of the once Boy Scout cabin, which is the room pictured here with the Christmas tree and fire place.
I always felt like I lived in a dream there. It was just such a special, neat place. The trees dazzled me as a child, and as an adult. I always hugged each tree before unwrapping it from its string, but sadly no old photos of that so far. At least none I have found. As a child growing up in the forest, it meant a lot to me for the forest to sacrifice a tree for us to cherish for the season. I knew the forest was giving up something it needed to bring us joy. I will forever hug and bow to my trees.
Beyond the beauty of our tree and the love that was a swirl at all times were the other Christmas preparations that were such a tradition in our home. Some of my favorites were when we all tried to gather in front of our enormous masterpiece for the quick family pic: Dad in his tuxedo because he just returned from some fancy event in the city. Mom in her token red. Me in my token little girl exhaustion from it all.
We were rocking it, eh? I love how our sweet pup was the only one who got the memo to look and smile!! I was apparently “Over it”, before we even got it 🙂 I looked evil, but I think I was a sweet kid? Lol! And man did I love my mom and dad.
Remember underoos? My favorite!!
And of course… “the boss”. Who knew? If I couldn’t be a superhero then darnit I’d run a company someday!! Red lipstick was a must. Got that from my mom who rarely got out of bed without it on!!
Getting ready was part of the fun too. Mom would get me all prettied up on Christmas Eve before she would go get dressed up and blow us all away. I always wanted to be her. Just exactly like her.
Once we were all dolled up, we would gather to sing Christmas Carols around the piano, which she played so effortlessly.
(she made the tree in the photo above too)
And then back to the kitchen to gather up all the breads she baked for days to have us go deliver to all the friends and neighbors On Christmas Eve.
So often I wondered if my Mom was Mrs. Claus 🤶
Christmas Day was never anything short of the best day of all our lives, every single year! We would all awake to the smell of a 40 cup Bunn Coffee maker and so many goodies we couldn’t count. Santa would have left many toys and presents and all of us would meet in the kitchen while my dad made a roaring fire in the fireplace before we all went bursting in to see what Santa left.
Those days were my favorite days of my life until I became the one making the magic. And now these days are my favorites as I see the joy and wonder of Christmas in my children’s eyes.
Oh- And I still hug my trees.