by Grandmother Waynonaha
Author of Voices: A Collection of Native American Stories
The days of the calendar tick off fast just before Christmas there never is enough time to do all the things I planned to do for the family. Between work and being a full time parent I find the hours are never enough at the end of the day. I some how managed to sew and bake through all of this for many years. First there is the cleaning of the house, a yearly ritual. Then we mix all of the batters for the cookies and start the Christmas cookie baking. This can take up to two weeks to do because of the fancy Norwegian cookies that need to be pressed and done in special tins and irons.
Soon the house will be decorated in lights and a big Christmas tree will fill the living room. The smell of wonderful spices and sweets will fill the house for days.
I loved the time spent sewing little night gowns of soft flannel for the girls, I have made them night gowns for years and even now they still love to snuggle up in the long soft gowns. There were also the special Christmas dresses to make and bring out just before the Christmas Eve party.
Each girl dressed in their new dresses with hair braided and tied in ribbons, looked as sweet and good as the Christmas Yule cakes. The watching out the window for the first guest to arrive, and praying that Daddy would make it home for Christmas. There was some Christmas times that he never made it home those were hard on the girls.
Soon with a house full of guests and the wonderful food being eaten. Home made Christmas gifts were passed out to the guests and soon it was time for them to go home.
It seems I have just blinked my eyes and the girls are all grown up with families of their own.
Still the simple things of Christmas were the best that we all remember.
Each fall before the snow fell we gathered baskets of pine cones and stored them in the shed. Just before Christmas the pine cones come out of hiding and we twist strong wire on them making a loop to hang them by.
In a large silver mixing bowl a special batch of bird seed, peanut butter, honey, and suet was made. This mixture was stuffed into the pine cones by little hands that end up very sticky. Still more is done to the cones as they are once rolled in dry bird seed until they are all covered. Cranberries are strung along with popcorn on heavy thread. We also tie pieces of carrots with wire twists for hanging. Apples and oranges are cut in slices and tied with ribbon. The fruit and pine cones were loaded into our baskets on the sled and we set out for the deep woods. Before we leave the house for our adventures I add one more treat to the basket, a thermos of hot chocolate and a bag of marshmallows and ginger bread men.
The snow crunches under little boots as three bundled up munchkins pulling the sled follow me. We take the path near the river and soon we come to the clearing that holds our special tree. It stands there as we left it last year empty of all decorations and another foot taller.
Taking the baskets off the sled, we start to decorate the tree with our treasures. First the carrots and apples are placed close to the ground where the small animals can reach them. Next the nuts in bright foil cones and then the berries strung on thick thread are draped over branches for the birds to find. The peanut butter stuffed pine cones we hung on the end of the branches until the little tree is full and happy.
We sit on the old log and admire our work while we hold hot cups of chocolate in our cold mitten hands. I bring ginger bread men out to hang next on the tree and many find their way into tiny mouths along with the hot chocolate. Not to worry I have thought about this and brought extra cookies for the girls.
Happy red cheeked smiling faces, look on as the birds first come to check out our work. They swoop down and sit on the branches looking with heads tilted at the bright berries. As they discover the pine cones they chatter in excited and happy voices.
The girls sit and laugh at the antics of the squirrels trying to get the peanut butter out of the pine cones. The twisted foil cones filled with nuts are emptied fast as the Crows and squirrels discover them. Soon the sun tells me it is time to leave this magic place and return to our warm and safe home.
I undress the little bundled munchkins like special presents, and send them off to find night gowns and a hot bath. Sweet smelling and sleepy eyed, they settle into their beds. I tell them the story of the first Christmas tree so long ago and why we honor this tiny tree above all others.
Sleepy eyes close and tiny heads fill with dreams as I quietly close the door on my sleeping children.
Now my girls are all grown up with families of their own and they still carry on the tradition of Christmas. The fancy cookies are still baked and the trees trimmed with bright lights and decoration. Still that tiny tree in the clearing is the true Christmas tree, and one that will always hold the beauty of Christmas giving.
Creator has blessed me in many ways with my children, and for this I am truly grateful.
Love and blessings
Copyright © 2006 by Waynonaha Two Worlds
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