The days of old seem perfect


Reading this Christmas book of personal stories collected by President Carter prompted many memories shared by my father over the years.
Holiday ‘treats’? Souse and Blind Robin were two foods that he described his grandfathers enjoying at holiday time that just simply made our stomachs turn at the very thought.
How different the holiday season has become in the course of a few generations! The days of old seem so perfect to me as I sit at this point of my life.
On or about Dec. 22, the grandfather or father would invite the children of the family to tag along with him to the woods and they would hike about until they found the Christmas tree that suited them all.
Simple joys. The cutting of the tree, placing it on a sled to be pulled back to the house, must have been such a simple joy on a chilly day. Dad said he recalled not so many cookies being baked when he was a child, but returning to a home filled with the scent of home-baked breads of all sorts wafting through the air.
He didn’t remember helping to decorate the tree, but he did remember everything that led up to the tree being placed for the women to decorate. It was a simple pleasure, and one in which every member of the family played at least a small part.
When it comes to my own childhood holiday memories, I remember my aunt’s long-guarded secret recipe of date-nut bread being brought out at holiday time. It was her specialty, and it tasted so good with a cup of hot chocolate with tiny marshmallows floating about.
Inexplicable rule. And I recall with an ongoing sense of frustration my mother’s one steadfast rule: If a child asked for something, even once, that was a guarantee that it would not be given.
So, what to do? How could a kid even so much as pretend not to want something without mentioning it by name? And yet, if it was never, ever mentioned, how in the world would anyone – even Santa! – know that this was the most longed-for item in the whole, wide world?
This inexplicable rule was followed by gifts on Christmas Eve night, which was our traditional family celebration, of new pajamas and one little toy of some sort. There were wonderful years of a favorite doll baby and later a Barbie doll.
Long season. Christmas was not the on-going production that it has now become. When Christmas music begins playing even before Thanksgiving, it is just too much, too prolonged.
People scramble and fight over items on a shelf, couples bicker over which party invitations to accept and which to decline, children are overdosed on commercials telling them what they want.
Ridiculousness. My Christmas wish is for the ridiculousness of this season to return to a single day of peace and joy and reflection of one sacred birth.
From my home to yours, I wish you joy, peace and happiness!


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Judith Sutherland, born and raised on an Ohio family dairy farm, now lives on a 70-acre farm not far from the area where her father’s family settled in the 1850s. Appreciating the tranquility of rural life, Sutherland enjoys sharing a view of her world through writing. Other interests include teaching, reading, training dogs and raising puppies. She and her husband have two children, a son and a daughter, and three grandchildren.