Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Christmas Memories From My Mom - Christal

What are your favorite Christmas memories?  PBS had a special about European Christmas traditions.  This had me thinking about the "melting pot" of traditions we share as Americans. 

I started with my mom.  She was born in 1932 - child 6 of 9.  By the time my mom was born, 2 of her siblings had already passed on.  Illness wasn't easy in those days, especially for the poor. 

My grandparents were poor and times were hard. Not like today, with all the programs one can partake in. I don't think my grandparents would have anyway. Mom talks about the people on "relief" - I believe it was some kind of welfare. She says "we never were that poor." 

My grandma Kincaid was an excellent cook - she had to be, her mother passed on when she was just a little girl. She had to cook for her brothers and dad while they worked "in the woods" all day. Her family traveled all over northern Wisconsin and UP working in different logging camps. That is where she met my grandpa and this is what he continued to do his whole life. They both were originally from Kentucky but, settled in Crandon, Wisconsin.

My mom tells me that grandma would have the table full of cookies, pies and bread. A tradition they had and looked forward to every year was red and green jello. She said that one year, my grandma ran out of serving dishes, so she made the jello in the water bucket. When she un-molded it, part of the bucket was attached and it didn't taste good.

They almost always had a venison roast for Christmas Eve dinner. My mom said that my grandpa would always shoot 2 deer, one for them and one to sell. Many tourists would come to the "north woods" to hunt - but, often times spent too much time drinking and not hunting. So, my grandpa would always find some unlucky hunter to sell to. The one he sold was their "Christmas money." 

My mom said that on Christmas Eve, my grandpa would go out in the woods and cut down their tree.   They looked forward to putting on the candles and simple decorations.  She said they would sit up and watch the candles burn down.  Her grandma Kincaid lived in a nice house and had a formal room where she had a decorated tree.  My mom tells me that none of the children were allowed in the room or to touch the ornaments.  She tells me that they would stand in the doorway and only admire it.  She said it was so beautiful - not like the tree they had. 

 My mom's favorite Christmas memory was one year when my grandma came into the bedroom and said "Santa was here."  My mom tells me that her sister Joyce, who was older, was also "smarter than her."  When they ran to look under the tree, there were 2 big "baby dolls" - one sitting a little higher than the other.  My aunt Joyce grabbed the taller one thinking it was the bigger one - they were both the same size.   Her brothers would receive a sled or skis. 

Humble, simple Christmas memories - how wonderful!  

Here is a picture of my grandpa and grandma Kincaid and the house they lived and raised their family in.  I can only imagine their heavenly home - they might not have had much here - they didn't have their minds set on this life, rather their eternal one.  I am the "better" for it!

Blessings from Ringle, Wisconsin.

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