Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Tuesday Ten

1. Why do people Christmas shop – or do any shopping of any kind for that matter when they’re in a hurry? It makes no sense and when they get irritated because there’s someone my mother’s age in front of them and she can’t find her money or her credit or doesn’t understand the coupon promotion, they add huffing and puffing to their irritation. Ultimately their irritation causes tension, hate and discontent all the way around, and makes me want to smack them.

2. When I was 9 and my brother was 8, we woke up Christmas morning to find brand new bikes by the tree! Mine was pink and had a banana seat, a basket and a bell. The thing is both my brother and I were S-I-C-K. I seem to recall we had colds, tonsillitis and strep throat, so my mother didn’t want to let us go outside to ride them. Neither one of us said a word, but both of us just sat by the tree sobbing. She finally gave in, bundled us up to the point where we could barely move and let us go out and ride for 10 whole minutes.

3. That may have been the best Christmas ever because I also received the transistor radio I had asked for!

4. And the tree that those gifts were under? It was a fake tree made entirely of aluminum that looked like silver tinsel. There was a big color wheel that was placed strategically by it that spun around and changed the color of the tree. I hated that tree and just wanted a green one like everyone else!

5. When I was around 13 or 14, my parents decided that Christmas had gotten too secular and had moved entirely too far away from what it was supposed to be about. So they refused to get a Christmas tree.

6. That year, my mother put out her tiny nativity set on a coffee table and my father put hay all around it. We had to put our gifts around it. Because Christmas is all about the Three Kings bringing gifts to Baby Jesus. Right then and there I wished we had that stupid silver tree back! So embarrassing to have to explain every single time a friend came over.

7. Also that year, instead of the normal Christmas goodies, cookies and desserts, we had a Birthday Cake for Baby Jesus.

8. Sometimes when I think back on memories like this I wonder what stupid things I’ve done that Little Helen will be telling and blogging about one day?

9. In the early 1980s, that embarrassing nativity set, which had always been OFF LIMITS to us kids growing up, suddenly was being placed on Mama Helen’s coffee table, right where little grandchildren could touch it! Well, one little grandchild. Little Helen loved that thing and would pick the pieces up and carry them around Mama Helen’s house. One day while she was there visiting she walked into the kitchen and handed Mama Helen the Archangel Gabriel, one of his wings snapped off. Of course, I was completely mortified because that set had been made by a friend of Mama Helen’s in a ceramics class and there was no way to replace the piece. So superglue it was. To this day, one of the angels wings is a little crooked.

10. Finally, in celebration of Helen’s Holiday Extravaganza, here are some photos of that little Nativity set. I started asking for it in my twenties and Mama Helen finally gave it to me in 1992. Funny how the thing I was so embarrassed by brings back some of my fondest holiday memories.

This is going down into my family room area.
The nativity set is sitting along the shelf straight ahead

Closeup up of the shepherd grouping

Closeup of the Three Kings grouping

The Holy Family with Gabriel and his broken wing

Just to show you how small this set is... this is the Baby Jesus figurine


  1. This reminds me of my aunt's nativity scene. According to family legend she "collects" them, which means she has who knows how many. But one year, my Mom, who had just started taking ceramics lessons decided to paint her sister an entire ceramic nativity set for Christmas. Time was drawing near and so the rush was on. Mom took her carefully, modestly painted girl angels to be fired. What went in as delicate, pale and demur came out of the kiln as Studio 54 painted up angels-of-evening. We called the especially red-lipped one Jezebel. We laugh about her every year - the baby Jesus looked after by tarts!

  2. I remember my transistor radio Christmas as well...the gift was just from my dad, which was unusual. I woke early and was curious, so peeled back just enough paper to see the letter K, and thought he'd bought me a box of kleenex! I fixed the wrapping, put it back under the tree and went back to my room, trying to work up gratitude for the box of kleenex. Imagine my delight to see that the K was for Kensington, which was the name brand of the radio!

  3. Boy, does this bring back Christmas memories of my own. Love you decorations - the figurines look so vintage and loved :)
    It wasn't until your comment this morning that I realized I forgot to add YOU in my post this morning, Helen. I get so much out of your blog and it's one that I rarely ever miss reading. My 'duh' moment of the day. Anyway, I wanted you to know how great it's been reading your writings...

  4. The only thing I ever wanted was the Devil Angel. It used to scare me and I'd put it in the freezer with the bad books, but I asked for it and I received. It stays up year long now. She's dark red and sinister looking, but I love her.

  5. Love the bike story and the nativity one. I can't imagine what stories my kids will tell with some of the things I've done. LOL
    Ah, memories.

  6. Oh my goodness - what a wonderful trip down memory land! I just pictured all of you sitting around the tiny nativity scene with big giant presents dwarfing it!

    Growing up my Dad took odd art jobs throughout the year - it would either be feast or famine, but some way or another, there were always tons of presents around at Christmas time. Makes me wonder if they borrowed money from my mom's parents?

  7. When I was growing up Christmas was such a family event. I remember all of it vividly and cherish all those memories. We used to go to my Grandparents on Christmas Eve and share dinner, laugh and gifts. Christmas day it would start all over again with the other Grandparents. Then we would go tobogganing or ice skating in the afternoon. Living in a small town made these activities easy.

    Now as a fully grown adult :) and with those same grandparents and parents no longer with us, Christmas doesn't quite have the same feel. My sister and brother and I try to make it as family orientated as possible but it just doesn't feel the same anymore. We are making our new memories but I loved the old ones. We all do.

    When I was putting out my decorations the other day, I found several that are so old they really should be put away but they were made by my Mom and they still go on the tree or on the shelf.

    I wish Christmas wasn't so stressful with all the buying presents and would be more focused on family togetherness - but children don't get that these days... and I wasn't much help with that when I brought all those kids up. Having 5 children I wanted to make sure they were all treated the same and now I've created a monster (me). This year I'm pulling it all back to try to make it more what Christmas is really all about.

  8. We had a little nativity scene that was porcelin and we used to put it under the tree. Came down one day to find the cat had chewed the heads off the 3 wise men! Funny that we still put it out after that for a few years.

  9. Uhm....speechless.....and that DOESN'T happen to me!!!

  10. What a wonderful post - I feel like I've gotten to know you even better!

    P.S. My husband grew up with a tree with a color wheel - he hated it, too.

  11. OMG.. I'm loving #1 already where you said it causes hate and mayhem and horror and then you said you wanted to smack them.

  12. Do you put the nativity scene on the table with hay? I think at that young age I would have been mortified but wouldn't have known the word mortified.
    I got a Hummel Mary & Baby Jesus (from my mom) but someone busted the whole backside of it. So other than it's symbolism, it's garbage. My mom has a beautiful nativity scene that's also Hummel. Gorgeous and simple. I love your nativity. And again, living vicariously. (or maybe just lazy).

  13. Can I just say that I love what your parents did...and how many kids probably got a good lesson in the true meaning of Christmas (don't smack me lololol) sounds like something I would do if my christmas decorating motto wasn't 'the tackier the better'.
    My big problem. I am a bit of a control freak when it comes to decorating the tree..someday my little ones will be regaling their friends with the fact that their mom would 'let' them help and then rearrange the ornaments later into a more pleasing composition.
    sad but true.
    love this post.
    I have an italian fontanini nativity set that cost too much.I bought it one piece at a time in germany...I love it though...my sophie, when she was three would take baby jesus...I would come out and he would be gone...I would find her behind the couch cradling him in her hands and kissing him. It was so sweet I couldn't tell her no.

  14. I have the nativity set that my mom made--just Joseph, Mary, and Jesus. I added a few animals. I love it and don't ever want anything different.

    Ha! We always had the big green Christmas tree, and I looked longingly at the aluminum trees with the beautiful color wheel!

  15. I love your Tuesday 10 of this week. I'm glad you decided to give the native set a place in your home so you can have your parents around in a way this time of year.

    We have a kind of such a native set too. My hub bought it once on a business trip in Israel and they really ripped him off which he found out when he got home. So now for as long as we're together the set has to be set with Christmas as it was so expensive to buy :lol: And of course every year the same story how we got it is being told.

  16. Oh and I'm totally with you on people who do shopping while they're in a hurry. I get very irritated by that too.

  17. 'just wanted a green one like everyone else'
    and I grew up not necessarily longing to CELEBRATE christmas but just wanting a TREE and LIGHTS like everyone else in the neighborhood.

  18. I enjoyed that trip down memory lane with you Helen.

  19. Loved this post--and the nativity set. I'm on my 3rd "Baby Jesus" figurine, because one of our little granddaughters was so in love with it that she took two of them home when she was three and four years old without asking or telling us. Her mother would find them in the strangest places. I let her keep them, (after she fessed up) because they meant so much to her. She's now an adult, and we tease her about her "annual Christmas theft."

  20. I love seeing all of your Christmas decorations and traditions. You are going to get me into the Christmas spirit yet, aren't you?!