Monday, November 22

Midwest Memories: Christmas

Memories of Christmases from long ago gently nudge me around the holidays; as unforgettable as the frosted windows of my childhood home. Wrapped up to imitate that kid from the old Bob Gregory commercial, my siblings and I would celebrate the school break by building snow forts, sipping hot chocolate (made with milk) and decorating the tree.

One year there were fewer decorations than other years.

Right around the age of 8 was when I decided to eat the popcorn balls my mother had carefully hung on the tree wrapped in jewel-toned reds, golds, blues, greens and purples…..32 of them, to be exact…at one setting.

Besides the lack of humor my mother found in my escapade, my stomach hurt for days afterward. It was worth every twinge. I would have eaten the other 24, but she had, in my young opinion, ruined those by putting gumdrops in them. A traditionalist, even as a child.

Pint-sized trouble
One tradition has been passed down to our own children. The Tootsie Roll bank full of the midget-size candies placed faithfully in the hung stockings.

I was about 10 years old the year I decided to eat all of those little guys...still in their wrappers. My mother, what a trooper. She stayed up all night with me.

A majority of the pre-holiday activity occurred in the kitchen. Fudge had to be cut, cookies were decorated and Rice Krispy treats had to be made and hidden from me because I would, well, you know…eat them all and get another bellyache.

She hid them well, my mother; I only found them once (beneath her bed) and she caught me while I was still devouring the first tin’s worth. I can still feel her hands around my ankles pulling me out from under there. I swear that woman had eyes in the back of her head and could sneak up on me without a sound.

While Mom was trying to keep me out of the goodies, Dad was busy making his clamored-for puffs of candy, divinity, coloring the fluffy sweets pink and green. Friends and family waited anxiously for their annual batch.

Other edibles included stringed popcorn, sometimes with cranberries if the price was low that year, and ribbon candy, my mother’s favorite. All year long I would save my pennies to buy it, knowing she enjoyed the beautiful cascading colors of the rippled candy as much as the flavors.

My parents have both passed on, my father with the secret to his divinity and my mother still, I am certain, keeping an eye on my mischief-making ways. Nowadays, I keep my mischievousness to a minimum. Unless nobody else is looking, that is.

Elizabeth J. Musgrave is a syndicated columnist, travel writer and theater critic. Catch her as Indy’s Arts & Entertainment Adviser on 93 WIBC and follow her on Twitter @GottaGo and Facebook.

Gotta Go is published in the following newspapers: South Sider Voice, Indiana Weekender, West Side Community News, New Palestine Reporter, West Indianapolis Community News, Pendleton Times Reporter and Fortville-McCordsville Reporter.

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