Tell Me A Story: Of Snow, Dolls, Tinsel and Chowder

I’ve invited a few friends to share some Christmas memories over the past several weeks. This one from my writing buddy and poetic mentor Shanda inclludes a bonus — a wonderful family recipe. Enjoy!

Christmas Memories buttonWhat I remember of Christmases of my childhood in Grand Rapids is snow, snow, snow. I remember my brothers shoveling a tunnel from the back door to the street in front of our house, then shoveling a tunnel from the front door to the other tunnel, then tackling the driveway. That sometimes took most of Christmas break for them. All that shoveling was needed and served to keep many boys constructively occupied and out of trouble.

I also remember a Christmas when my father in California sent two dolls for my sister and me. I wanted the baby “drink and wet” doll but my mother decreed that my younger sister should have that, and I should have the Vogue doll. I was heart-broken until I discovered that many of the other girls my age in our neighborhood had Vogue dolls, and we could all play together and share doll clothes.

I remember putting tinsel on a lighted tree and accidentally getting shiny metal tinsel on the plug that was not entirely inserted in the outlet behind the tree. That set off a shower of sparks! It also made my mother yell. We tried to avoid that always afterward. Later, when I bought tinsel for the Christmas trees for my children I was very disappointed to discover it was plastic! It just isn’t as shiny and doesn’t drape the same weighty way that aluminum tinsel did.

I remember the many Christmas eves when my children were small and we walked the three blocks to Grace Lutheran Church in Syracuse, Indiana. For many of those years everyone on the five or six blocks of our street, Lake Street, put out luminaria in front of each house on the lawns lining the street. It was a lovely walk and a beautiful experience every time we attended the midnight candle service. Singing Christmas hymns and carols has never been as sweet as it was during those years of their childhood.

Now I remember to celebrate Christmas by loving our children and grandchildren and trying to make the holidays fun and memorable for the good times we have together — playing board games, opening presents, and cooking and eating clam chowder. We try to gather as many of our family together as their busy-ness allows each year.

My children and grandchildren were surprised to learn that people eat other types of food than clam chowder on Christmas day. They all thought clam chowder was a traditional meal for Christmas day, but I started cooking chowder when the children were small because most of the prep work can be done the day before and making soup gives mom, and now grand-mom, an easier holiday. We have made our own traditions and are making new memories every year.

new chowder

Shanda Hansma Blue Easterday is a published poet and a college professor. Her book “The Beekeeper’s Wife” (available on Amazon) is a metaphoric story of womanhood. When she is not writing poetry or grading papers, Shanda is busy with her dogs, her grown children and her grandchildren. She lives on a lake in rural Michigan with her husband, Bob, who is indeed a beekeeper.

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