Memories Are The Sweetest Part Of Christmas



Is there any other time of the year that brings to mind so many memories as the season of Christmas? I am and always have been fascinated with all things past, enjoyed history as a child and loved reading biographies. That simply means I love old things like our house, my brain, my husband and most of our furniture. Our home is a lovely old Italianate Victorian, lovely only if you don’t mind a bit of decay, chipped paint and rot, some of which has probably been here since the 1880’s; debris fromits construction.

I have a particular affinity for old quilts. They have such a unique story to tell with all of their varied fabrics and their histories. Most of our ancestors would be appealed by the asking price of most simple cotton fabrics today, even if they did have a craft/fabric store in every town. Ten dollars a yard being about the average and using new cloth for a quilt…how silly that would seem to them and now, that’s what most of us modern quilters do use.  

I do not have a family quilt from my family. I don’t know if my ancestors used them all or if they simply got lost. If I did have one going back many, many years I know it would have both blues and greys from both sides who fought in the Civil War. The cotton cloth would have been grown on family farms, picked by hands pricked with the sharp edges of the cotton bolls, and woven by great grands, and grands who did it with precision. Once again, another lost art for so many families. I know my family quilts would have had worn fibers from hardworking families, both parents and children, working just to survive.

My dear husband’s beloved Aunt Ruthie, his mother’ sister, upon finding out how much I loved quilts, gave me several of hers, crafted many years ago by her mother-in-law. The most unusual one of all four she gave me is now 200 years old, constructed in blues and whites. I have it tucked away for safe keeping because of its fragility and also because they are so difficult to clean without destroying them. One does not dry clean quilts; they are washed very carefully, by very courageously cautious people.

I am enthralled when I look closely at old quilts and am filled with wonder about who made them, what their lives were like and who wore or used the fabrics in these quilts. Did someone’s great grandfather wear that faded blue denim with overalls? Was that petite flowered fabric with tiny daisies once helped a woman protect her Sunday dress by serving as her apron? Perhaps, she wore it as she basted the Christmas goose before attending church in a horse drawn wagon, over rough and bumpy terrain? You can bet their Christmas tree came from their own or a neighbor’s property. Homemade ornaments, paper chains, soggy garlands of drippy cranberries, alternated with their own home-grown popcorn, strung the day before by their children and their friends.

I have learned old things like antique furniture can “talk” to you. They tell you how well they were loved, maintained and even polished. Their patina, odor, dents and scratches all reveal the humans who lived with these beautiful or simply functional pieces. They squeak, they glow and often they outlive their usefulness but always, they are loved as a part of our or some families’ history. It often amazes me when I realize some piece of wood, stone or iron will live on long after you and I are gone. I love to “hear” the stories told by old china pieces, sensible and commonly used items like old irons, coal scuttles and such items

All year long, I confess to this fascination with history and living in the oldest town west of the Rockies, only feeds that thirst. My favorite newspaper of the week is the Friday edition of the Daily Astorian which has some fascinating tales of old shipwrecks, stories intertwined with tales of those captains’ families and their adventures. A couple of weeks ago I read a story I must share with all of you which I found hilarious; however, I’m certain it wasn’t humorous to the poor dead whale in the tale. Not exactly ancient, having occurred in Nov. of 1970, it is a great story anyway. A fellow was walking along the beach in Florence, Oregon and came upon an extremely stinky, dead whale of gigantic proportions, of 48 feet and 8 tons, this particular gray whale had been there awhile. No one in the area could agree how to get rid of the odiferous remains therefore they decided to place a half ton of dynamite on the leeward side of the whale so the offal would land and float out to sea. Seems a fitting burial for a whale. Well…the best laid plans and all that.

They moved the large number of spectators a quarter of a mile away from the explosion and lit the dynamite. Instead of landing in the ocean and being floated away by the current, the remains of the departed whale flew into the air with the explosion and via gravity came down on the observers. The skies were filled with large pieces of exploded blubber, on and around the spectators, one large piece of blubber being so heavy it ruined the roof of one gent’s brand-new Oldsmobile. It was reported one could hear pieces of the poor dead whale landing on the ground, blasted blubber bits everywhere. They did use some decorum by burying what remained of Mr. Whale. I love history because it reports not only the glorious and amazing but the spectacularly silly, stupid and always memorable.

For many of us our holiday memories are completely personal as we remember Christmases and Thanksgivings long past but which live on in memory. Most of us on this site and my Facebook site have some sort of chronic pain. I am told my dear Dad’s sweet and very kind mother suffered from what would now be called crippling rheumatoid arthritis, spending the last three years of her life in bed. Her name was Ophelia, called Phelie by family and friends, she was a tiny woman, gentle in her ways, married to a tall, brutish man, my grandfather Faulkner. Yes, if you noticed, there are members of my family, old and new who use the “u” in Falkner and some who do not. My Dad did not, his brother did.

I never met my grandma Phelie because she died years before I, the youngest daughter in my family of all girls was born. I do distinctly remember each time one of us girls were pregnant and the conversation would turn to what to call the new baby, my Dad would say, “Now, Ophelia, there’s a beautiful name.” We would each change the subject but interestingly enough, my own dear daughter named her daughter, as her middle name, Ophelia. That’s only one of the many reasons both of them, my daughter and granddaughter are so special to me.

We who live with chronic disease and/or chronic pain must not let the present rob us of all the fascination and wonder that surrounds us in our histories and in the histories of others. Certainly, we do less than we used to do, baking less, decorating less but those sweet memories live on in our minds, hearts and loved ones. It is also great fun to drag out all our old pictures of Christmases past as we enjoy Christmas present and leave the Christmases future in the hands of our Lord God. We really have so little control over this thing called life.

I pray each of us never forget the reason for this miraculous, colorful and enjoyable Holy day and that is the wee Babe who lay in a manger of straw, born under the humblest of circumstances who would change the world forever.

22 thoughts on “Memories Are The Sweetest Part Of Christmas

  1. Like you sue to me all things from the long past have a story looking at us waiting to be heard..I can feel them calling to me.on times
    The past has so much to reveal..the blog was a timely story
    Bitter sweet as the past can be it absorbs my thoughts if I let it
    To almost touch it ..but it keeps its secret
    But of my Christmas’s it’s just too painful too see it at the moment .i feel I’m just playing the part I should be
    Love the whale story he had his triumph…..

    • Chris dear, I am sorry the past is painful but understand so well. Our little family feels so small this year with my SIL’s brother gone and we all still miss his Mom, she was such a dear lady and one of my dearest friends. Melancholia sets in pretty badly around this time of each year for millions. I guess that’s why I threw in the whale story…to lighten the picture with a bit of humor. I love history and know we will soon be part of it but that is how life is, this cycle of life.
      I caught the flu from my DH and he’s been coughing for the last ten nights but of course won’t go to the doctor’s him being a stubborn man and all. i mixed up somelemon juice and honey last night but it didn’t help him For me it’s all in the sinus and throat as usual.
      I hope you find some brightness in this holiday. I have finished my shopping..almost. I think we each have to watch our measure or cheerful, up against the sad memories. It’s a strange time in so many ways. Hang in there dear girl, Love, Sue

  2. Get that bug gone by Xmas ..they are so wearing .your dh has had his for a while now .we are trying to stay clear of crowds and hav3 that alcohol rub to put on hands … so fingers crossed…
    hope all improved with you and sb ok now ..did he have the scan I do hope all was are is headaches …your friend and her mother as well
    How is B now and yourself .not long till the rheum appt .hope you didn’t catch his bug

    I’ve got the Xmas tree up ready to go bought a new one this year.
    Our old one was chucked a few years ago and we’ve not had I’m tying to
    Get in the spirit
    Meeting dd half way for lunch A little look around the shops..I love the smell of the veg shops in the cold weather
    And all the shops all twinkly.
    It’s going to be cold and sunny tomorrow so I may get into the spirit

    • Chris
      B is feeling some better and I am feeling some bad, as is my sister. I called him “Typhoid Mary” today, then had to tell him that story. So, hope it doesn’t hit me so hard
      Enjoy your Christmas

      • Tonie, Ugh oh, do take care. I missed my methotrexate this week also. I could tell on my usual weekend dose I was getting sick. Do take care of both of you or is it his turn to take care of you. Being lazy here…am trying to put together some mac n’ cheese tonight because too much cheese in the house. Love you and thanks again for straightening out my mess with this blog on Monday. Love you lots, Sue

    • Chris, I think getting out with your daughter sounds like it will be good for you. I know, so often, when we’ve lost precious family members we relive thoughts and experiences that sometimes dominate our minds.
      We gave away our older lovely tree. It was a beautiful nine foot that I simply have not been up to decorating in recent years and found a local friend who likes it very much. I know it went to a good home. We have done very little thus far. Jim says he feel better after 12 days but still coughs a great deal. He is more prone to bronchitis and asthma. As for me, I got sick on Sunday and have conjunctivitis and sore throat as my main complaints. I was a mess writing this due to the eyes and Tonie had to post it twice because I screwed up. Glad we finally got it right.
      Please be sure to enjoy the vegie shops and all the Christmas decor. Love you much, Sue P.S. Hope DH is doing better now.

  3. Sweet memories. I have many of holidays past. Can’t say I have a story to equal the whale, though. Nicely done, Sue.

    Chris, et al, the boy is slowly improving. Today he woke still unable to function right away, but he said his headache was gone or all but. Now to see if the grogginess is due to the meds to help his sleep pattern – we think so. Progress.

    • Lyn Dear, pleased to hear SB is getting better albeit slowly. Sounds like the rest and the meds are working. I know you will keep close eye and in touch with the neurologist. Seeing the headache specialist will be good in a month. Do enjoy this season. Both sick here so little done outside as yet. Your porch looks very pretty. All of our neighbors are outshining us. Thanks for the update. Love to you, Sue

  4. A lovely post Sue which I have had time to read this morning as a shopping trip yesterday has left me achy and a bit slower today. I am feeling so much better but my brain is still definitely ahead of my body. If all goes well this may be my last Christmas in my home of 12 years, a home that is full of memories of 4 teenagers growing up with their mum. Some of the memories I will be glad to let go of, but some of them are very precious and Christmas is one of those. We never had the money for holidays through the summer so looking forward to Christmas was always special and I loved being Mrs. Claus. Love Alison.

    • Alison, indeed, I know. Christmas is a special time of the year. Have all the kids besides Simon left home? I pray I remembered his name and hope his problem was recently worked out by his Dad. Try to see it as a new chapter in your life sweet girl. One thing about memories is they are not confined to places.
      I know that feeling when the brain is in action and the rebellious body says, :”NO/\.” I think that is the hardest part of chronic pain. The mind and spirit never seem to catch up. I’m much older than you and find a certain peace comes as we get closer to Heaven. It really does happen and each experience becomes more important. I don’t mean to depress..just being honest. Love you gal, Sue

      • Ah thank you Sue. Im quite sure you understand. I am in a completely empty nest now although Simon pops back routinely and yes things have settled down once more but with Simon you never know what might be around the corner. We just have to face each unecpected incident as it arises. I delegated the problem this time to brothers and his dad and all responded which gave me some respite to let my emotions settle before stepping in. If things work out next year i will be moving to a very lovely place. I just cant quite get excited yet as until weve signed on that dotted line. Its a waiting game. Take care. Alison. X

  5. Hello all
    Here in the mountains we are preparing for a big snow on Sunday. I so hope we are not going to have a power outage. Although, if we do maybe it will hasten my dear hubby to purchase the generator I keep telling him we need.
    I feel better, and so does he and my sister. He is still coughing a lot. But as Sue said, a sign of healing.
    Well, I got a call from my 8nternist office this morning. My Lyme’s test was positive. But, he said it could be false due to my RA. However, he wants to treat me with antibiotics for a month and see how I feel. If better, then a treatment for 6 months. He thinks that is the source of these strange rashes I have been having. Ugh. Prayers please, having a bit of a hard time accepting this news. Just gonna believe it is a false positive result and go forward.
    Rose Tinited, prayers for that dotted line” soon. Change is sometimes so good and a new home sounds wonderful. Merry Christmas to you and yours.
    Hope you all have a good day. I am gett8ng ready for my bazaar tomorrow. Prayers I sell out !

    • Tonie, well shoot! I know how surprised you must feel. Let’s see how it plays out. It could be an explanation for those rashes, though. Snow? Oh dear, sounds like enough reason right there for a generator, even if you don’t lose power…be prepared. I am glad you’re all better and for you, the antibiotics to test this new problem is an excellent idea. Clear and cold here. Keep in touch dear friend. Love ya, Sue

  6. Tonie
    Yes it could well be a false positive ..I think that’s why they delay doing them as that always seems to be the result
    I see in our news you getting some bad weather so keep safe.and I hope you get that generator
    Hope your throat has healed and didn’t develope any
    Good news on dh ct only showed minor roughening and to take statins..well he can’t take those.but his cholesterol level at the drs the previous week was quite when he sees the dr he will talk about that and maybe no need to take them
    So no need to see the hospital again as all was ok..very relieved. Also the ear mould that’s been going wrong since February seems to be sorted . so it’s just the bp meds’ to sort out . although he took an increase of betahistine for his balance and that seems to be helping and he’s able to take the extra bp med now
    So hopefully all will be well….and we can go for a drive to the coast soon ….
    I do hope you can sign up soon and move to where it is that sounds so lovely

  7. Hello all
    Knee deep snow out and still falling. B, cleared a lot of paths, I cleaned Judy’s porch. Horses 8n the barn. Their balnkets getting rinsed and dried. Busy day here. But now, I am safe and warm on the couch. Hope this doesn’t end up with the power going out !
    Chris, good news about do. Hope he stays well. And you, take care of you as well.
    Sue, hope you are doing better today as well. It is bad enough without the nasty of a cold. I think this is more of a virus. B is still coughing but finally better. Me, I am ok. Just tired all the time.

  8. Good morning
    22” of snow. Ugh ! Maybe more with frozen rain this weekend, more UGH . But we are escaping today to go workout. The pool is closed for repairs, but will workout in the weight room, ride a bike, etc. Then a hot shower.
    Hope everyone is doing good. I need to get busy wrapping presents to send away. Making candy and cookies. Lots of inside stuff to do. I do not like winter.
    Is everyone ready for Christmas ? My shopping is done, now to wrap. I also hate to wrap presents. Thank goodness for bags !

  9. My goodness tonie
    Do go careful
    How you feeling with the antibiotics and all now
    I’ve got all our presents..only a small family
    Yes bags are good.ive got them this year and tissue paper sort of loose around
    It gives snow for here Saturday but nowhere the amount of’s cold near freezing next few nights

    we got to the coast yesterday .it was sunny and cold but nice tho
    Went to our Ususal haunts had a bite to eat and coffee at one place then further down the coast rd some tea looking at the sea by a fire that was lovely and not smoking for my eyes didn’t want to leave..I’d love a real fire it’s just the mess and if it smokes for my eyes
    But we’ve got a gas flame in the wall ..not the same but it’ll,do

    Tomorrow we go to photo At the museum again and a cheese scone …..

    • Chris, all sounds so cozy and warm with fires burning and those outings which I know you love. So sorry I have not been able to put together a thought to go on here in the last few days. Jim is better with less coughing and my throat clearing up. These viruses can be so miserable. That’s what we get for not getting our act together to get flu shots earlier in the fall. For me it has been difficult to go for two and a half weeks without my methotrexate injection. That part has been the worst.
      We are the Scrooges of the neighborhood this year without lights up outside but in this wind and rain, it’s the last thing either of us needed to be doing but we are all cozy and warm inside. Trees up, I’ve made two wreaths, one for me using a wonderful base Tonie made and brought to us and another for a gift. I miss being crafty at Xmas time. I used to be sewing or gluing until midnight every Christmas Eve. I was just chuckling remembering one year I made my teenaged nephew a Dolly Parton Pillow. Think I’ve mentioned that before. I made small wall quilts, wreaths, small trees, etc. Now I buy most things. Right now, today and days to come I just need to bag and wrap. Jim is a great wrapper so I’ll ask for help.As I write this, I can’t believe all that’s getting tossed around outside…plastic anything, bushes, etc. Hope your holiday preps are easy. I have ordered a specially good ham and we will also have a prime rib. Since Xmas Eve and the day we will share the same meal. I ordered a special fruitcake from Texas I’ve often heard praised and looking forward to much good eats. Thoughts with you during this festive season. Our family is also small. Love ya, Sue

  10. Chris
    Haven’t received my pills yet. Probably today. Mail order RX. So we will see. Feel like caca today. But have lots that need to be done. Baking and making candy to send my grands in Az. And for here. My daughter is coming up sometime before or after, not sure yet. And gifts to wrap, or bag, lol. We got out to the gym yesterday. Went to Taco Bell for the burrito, lobby is closed. Drove on to the next town and that one was the same, B and my sister were like two kids pout8ng. B said he hadn’t had one in two weeks and was all set for it ! I declare I think it is the only reason they go to the gym, lol.
    Your trip sounds so nice. Would love that fire and the beach. Lovely. Too bad it is 5 hours from us.
    Take care

    • Tonie, I loved your burrito story. I had no idea they were such big fans of Taco Bell. I used to eat there a lot in CA but up here I seldom go to ours ever since the last time I went into the one we used in CA. I forget what I ordered but I remember they reached up above their heads for a pump coming from a long pipe to squirt the cheese out of a tube. Yuk. Hard for me to go there any longer but still like their original tacos and used to love their Burritos Supremo.
      You certainly have plowed on with exercising, being out in the snow and all while being ill. I pray you are now much better. We will chat on FB later. Got to do some laundry now..piling up a bit around here and J is out getting some meds from Walgreen’s. Love to you, Sue

  11. Sue, I posted on here last night but it seems to have found that big black hole of undelivered posts!
    I enjoyed your information about quilts! My mother made our two boys quilts out of double-knit fabric from the Kitten Mill in Lanark, Ontario, that was used to make their beautiful garments. They used expensive, double knit fabrics to make their pants, skirts and jackets, but they also made beautiful sweaters and lighter floral pieces to make coordinating tops. When a customer made a purchase at the Kitten Mill outlet, they could take home (if they wished) a bag of the ends that were left over during the cutting out process. My sons used their quilts as bedspreads throughout their years at home. The fabric was in beautiful colours, but very tough to last through all those years, and they are still beautiful today! Ryan was only three years old and Brad six when she made their quilts. The patterns are identical but one was done with blue as the dominant colour and the other green. She also made crazy patch quilts Those were the everyday quilts made by farmer’s wives back when nothing was thrown out, and the patches were made from the good pieces of worn-out clothes. I have one filled with beautiful colours; some fabric was new, some also from the Kitten Mill, (but unlike the boy’s quilts, she used colourful floral pieces), but it also has many patches from dresses of my grandmother, my mother and me. It is a family treasure! Her last quilts were made for her grandchildren as wedding gifts, but the very last one was made with the aid of pliers to help pull the needle through the fabric with painful arthritic hands. All the quilting was done by hand! When our son Rayan was at Teacher’s College one assignment was to pretend he was an elementary student and it was “Show and Tell” day! He took a quilt of his grandma’s to “show” and talked about her and her quilts. My mother had recently passed on and he said he wrapped the quilt around him as he spoke and said he felt that he was wrapped in love … they were very close and he misses her very much.
    I hope everyone has a Happy and Blessed Christmas.
    Hugs … Pommum Brenda

    • Pommum, this is so beautiful and touching. I loved hearing about your Mom’s skills and the special fabrics. So much love goes into making a quilt…your son was indeed wrapped in love. I hope my kids have some special memories of some of the things I have made over the years and will have them when I’m gone.
      Ugly that you have this nasty virus. We have been struggling through but will survive. Terrible timing it is true for this time of the year. I pray you feel better for the Holy days and for the grands coming over. Thankfully we both have loving and good men in our lives who love us even with our many limitations. Have a blessed time of it. Love you gal, Sue

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