February 5, 2011

Christmas as a child

When I was growing up in Indiana, Christmas was a huge event. My grandmother, Sylvia, was an awesome cook and more importantly an awesome baker. I remember the lovely pies on the table, the several days of cookie baking and the cheesecake. Oh the cheesecake!

The days leading up to Christmas was cooking and baking. My mom would go over to help and often a few cousins would come over to have their time with grandma. It was fairly easy as they lived across the field from my grandma and my parent's business was next door. There were nine cousins, my sister and myself, the three who lived across the field and the four who lived down the road.

The day of Christmas evening was spent gathering everything. We would go to grandma and grandpa's house to open presents. Early on, we got gifts from our aunts and uncles and our grandparents. Our moms would always order clothes for us from the Sears and/or JcPenny catalog. We got two outfits each-a dress and a school outfit. more often then not, the girls had matching dress outfits in some way or another. As we got older, we would exchange names with cousins to pick a cousin for which to buy. When we got older, my grandma would take Kelley and I shopping for our own clothes. We'd go to the mall in Michigan City and make a Saturday afternoon of it. We'd have lunch and grandma would always insist we'd have sundaes. One year, I don't remember why-I think it's when grandma fell and broke her hip maybe?- grandpa starting taking us shopping. When he did, we got a lot more then two outfits. I think we would say Grandpa, we can't decide and he'd tell us to get them all and let's go. We just couldn't tell everyone else :)

Christmas Eve was present opening at Grandpa and Grandma Poparad's house. We'd open presents and then have supper. Usually, it was Italian Beef and broasted chicken with potato wedges. There may have been boxed mac and cheese, too. The Italian beef was in the crockpot most of the day and the chicken came from the gas station down the road. Is broasted chicken available outside of NW Indiana? I haven't found it in Texas or New York. I digress. We'd eat, do a fashion show and then usually, go home from there. My cousins went to early church at their church. My mom and grandparents would usually go to midnight service. When I got older, I would often go with them.

Christmas morning was usually early at our house. We'd open presents in the morning and spend the next few hours cleaning up and putting toys together. There were always barbie dolls. I loved playing with my barbies. One year, I remember my sister getting a glow worm. She was probably two or three. I was so excited for her that we opened the present before my parents got up. Then we wrapped it back up. There was the year that there was a present in the back of the tree. My mom put the tree up in a corner. When I reached back for it, the tree fell over and on me. There was the year we go our fake cabbage kid dolls (my dad didn't work a lot) and then the year we got real cabbage patch kids. We each had preemie dolls in our stockings.

My mom loved decorating for Christmas--and still does. There is a santa claus doll that is hand made and I believe my dad made with his grandmother. Or did she make it for him? We had stockings that were made for us and were hung on the back of the front door. No one ever used the front door. We rarely even answered the door bell if someone rang it. If we knew them, they came to the back. When the bay window went in, she built a town with the fake snow and the multitude of buildings. There were Christmas figurines all on the tables. And the Christmas music-always the Christmas music!

After presents, etc., we'd go to breakfast at grandma and grandpa's house. They would have a large dinner at one, but we'd go down to GG Knapp's afterward. When that relationship went side ways, we'd stay for dinner. There was always food, so so much food! Turkey, Swedish meatballs, ham, mashed potatos, and pies. The strawberry pie was my favorite, along with the cheesecake. The female cousins would get one strawberry pie and my two male cousins could share their own strawberry pie. One year, all hell broke lose when there wasn't enough gravy.

We played poker after dinner. Always had many many dishes to clean up. Often, we had to take them upstairs for the dishwasher. We'd wash the china downstairs by hand in the back and dry them on the washer.

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