Dec 25, 2015

Favorite Memory of Christmas

My Empehi friends, What is your favorite memory of Christmas when you were a kid? Also, What was your favorite gift that you received as a child? 
Charlie Van liere 

My best memory is my mother reading Twas the Night Before Christmas as we kids cuddled around her on the couch. The fireplace was lit with real logs, Bing's White Christmas album was playing and the windows were decorated with spray foam snowflakes. And we always made cookies: gingerbread boys were the best. I still make them. My favorite gifts were a Toni doll one year and baby Lambkins doll the next.

Sharon Avny

Hmmmm. Our next door neighbor's Christmas lights. They were nothing more than rubber sockets with colored light bulbs in them, like you see at the tree lots that pop at Christmas, hung on the front gutter of his house. My dad used to say. "Well, I see Fred has his damn fruit stand up." To me, Fred putting up the fruit stand made the season official to me, the time to start getting excited about the coming days.

Christmas seemed to be the one time of year when the insanity we lived in disappeared. When there was snow, we spent hours out on 110th Street and 110th Place sledding like maniacs down the hills, and every kid in the neighbor hood was there. Great memories.

Thanks, Charlie.

Ron Robertson

OMG, my most memorable Christmas gift EVER was the blue taffeta skirt with the built in can-can underneath. My sister Linda and I both got one, so I lucked out and got hers to wear down the road-of-life as she was older than me. Hand-me-downs were big back-in-the-day!

Happy holidays everyone!
Joan Pettavino. '66


My strongest memory of Christmas when I was five. I was in the Little Company of Mary Hospital for two weeks.  I think I received special gifts for being sick - I vividly remembering a gunfight with a nice nurse. I also received a printing set from Sunday School - No idea who actually purchased it - Thank you whoever you are, and Merry Christmas. My favorite gift was coming home.


Another strong memory:

I arrived in Vietnam on Christmas Eve, 1969. It was gently raining. Hill 327 loomed over the airport looking beautiful swathed in bright perimeter lights like a halo in the mist. There was a great deal of firing and flares from the hill and some of the new guys thought we were under attack.

We ran into a large building and one Marine shouted, "They're really getting hit up there. Take cover!" 

I subsequently found out that there had been no attack, but simply a "lighting it up" impromptu firex to celebrate Christmas. Of course no one would openly admit that. You could fire at noises or sounds, so the troops were firing on Christmas eve at numerous noises and sounds. Our Christmas letter at:

Nice idea on sharing memories, Charlie. Thanks for taking the initiative.

Craig Hullinger MPHS Jan 66


I guess I should answer my own questions. My favorite gift was a new 20 inch Schwinn bike with training wheels. It was forest green and a cream color. Loved that bike. My favorite memory was putting up a real tree and decorating it, but I did not like putting than darn tinsel on. On Christmas Eve we would go to bed and my mom (Santa) would fix our stockings and always put a large orange in the toe. 



I remember the glass hand painted Nativity slides and special projector for them at Sutherland. I would look forward to seeing them every year.

I was fortunate to have a Grandmother who worked at S.S Kresge. She would bring the neatest toys at Christmas. Usually a neat geared steerable wind up car.

Tom Thomas.


This has been a really interesting thread.

Special fruit seems to be a common denominator, and I don't remember a lot of fruit in the winter other than a big orange in the stocking. But now and then one of my father's patients would give him a Harry & David gift basket, and those were AMAZING. Giant, beautiful apples and pears, all magnificently arranged in a big basket. Often studded with dates and kumquats. Dates! Kumquats! It was a kind of cultural fruit revolution.

My favorite gift over time was probably the cowgirl outfit I got when I was around five. Buckskins, hat, boots, fringed skirt and vest -- and a pair of six-shooters. I wanted desperately to be Annie Oakley.

The gift I remember most fondly was kind of strange -- a ream of paper. I had an uncle who was a chemist for Mead Paper in Ohio, and one year they sent my sister and me reams of colored paper. Not construction paper, but really nice heavy copy paper. One ream was pink and the other was blue and it was just astonishing to me to consider that pile of paper.

On Christmas day, my family would drive from North Beverly to Morgan Park and have dinner with my Cannon cousins on Lothair -- Kay, Mike, Steve, and Lolly. They always seemed to get incredible presents, though I don't remember any specifics. I do remember that every year their family had a photo Christmas card that showed the whole family in a theme: Scouts, musical instruments, sports, and so on. Hardly anybody did that back then.

Mostly what I remember about Christmas dinner was that sometimes there was a side of venison, mercifully optional. And that after dinner we would drive home up Longwood Drive looking at all the Christmas lights on the big houses.

Taffy Cannon, June '66
Carlsbad, California


One of the questions I missed answering had to do with memorable Christmas gifts. I had a "Maiden Aunt" -- one of the first women's libbers before they'd been thought of -- who lived on Lake Shore Drive. A treat every year was to go to her apartment and then take a taxi to lunch at Marshall Fields -- was it The Walnut Room?

Every year, Aunt Laura's two gifts to my brother and me (and all of our cousins) were predictable but prized. Slips for the girls and pajamas for the boys and a book. Starting with The Bobbsey Twins, moving on to Nancy Drew and Cherry Ames for me -- I think my brother got Spin & Marty and The Hardy Boys books. Upon returning home from my Aunt Jinny's house, our traditional spot for Christmas Dinner, and after stopping at my grandparents on Talman, I'd immediately huddle in front of the heat vent in the living room and get started on that book. All the next day, that's where you'd find me (turning often to keep from burning my skin) until I was finished. My brother was likewise "holed up" reading, and we'd trade books to keep the fun going.

Ahh, the simple pleasures of our youth. Too bad our grandchildren don't enjoy poverty.

Judy Halligan Willingham '66

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