December 18, 2009

Christmas memories

Family traditions make lifetime of memories for 90-year-old

By Christine Pendill (Special to The Criterion)

My favorite Christmas story happened when I was about 7 years old. My two sisters and I were always so excited at Christmas time.

We lived on a big farm. Dad would take us to find a nice cedar for our Christmas tree, and we would take turns pulling it through the snow. It was so much fun.

Mom would pop corn for us to string, and she helped us make things to hang on the tree. We didn’t have electricity so we used a lot of tinsel to make our tree shine.

On Christmas morning, Mom and Dad would not let us see what Santa had brought for us until we came home from church.

We lived about two-and-a-half miles from St. Anthony Church in St. Anthony, Mo. We owned a Model T Ford, but we also had a nice hack wagon. It had two large seats and was tuffed with leather. It had to be pulled with a team of horses. It was much better to take the wagon on the rough country roads, especially if there was snow on the ground.

We always went to the first Mass on Christmas morning. It was still very dark outside. If there was snow on the ground, Dad would carry us to the wagon to keep our feet dry. Mom would bring out quilts to wrap around us to keep us warm. Dad hung a lantern on the wagon, but the horses knew the way to church and back home without the light.

We would sing Christmas carols all the way to church. “Silent Night” was my favorite carol. My heart was filled with love for everyone and for Baby Jesus.

When we got home from church, we had to change our clothes and have breakfast before we could see what Santa had brought for us.

Mom made a breakfast fit for a king. Everything was homemade—sausage, biscuits, home-churned butter and a choice of homemade jellies.

We were so excited to finally get to see what surprises Santa had given to us.

I remember the doll bed my Grandpa made for me at Christmas the year before. I found it under the tree. Santa had made a new quilt for my doll bed and a new dress for my doll. I probably got a few extra things, but I was so happy that Santa remembered my doll.

We didn’t expect a lot of things for Christmas. We were told that Santa had so many little girls and boys to remember on Christmas morning. He did bring us lots of candy and fruit.

I would just love to live that Christmas morning of so many years ago again. I am 90 years old now, and I have a lifetime of wonderful memories.

(Christine Pendill is a member of St. John the Apostle Parish in Bloomington.)

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