MY HOLIDAY TIME CAPSULE
By Lydia Bogar
Nostalgia grips me when it comes to the holidays–even when they come to a close in January.
Memories of my childhood ease my stressed-out mind. In those days, we wrote holiday cards which we stamped and mailed on Thanksgiving weekend. Our family was not a big one, but Mom’s list was very long and including probably a hundred of our family’s beauty salon customers.
Anyway, the cards – glossy, religious, pastoral or with glitter – were usually 4 x 6 inches in size. My job was to write our return address on the back flaps, make sure the flaps were tucked in–not glued because that cost an extra three cents–and sort them into local and out of state piles.
After Mom mailed them downtown, the bounty would return within days. Our letter carrier, Mr. Rodgers (no kidding) would sometimes have to leave a large plastic bag of mail on the doorknob. But the real motherlode came the week before Christmas when mail was delivered twice a day and once on Sunday.
There was a real touch of magic when it snowed. On those nights, white and red lights, woven in through shrubs, sparkled on the crisp white yard, and green light bulbs in both patio fixtures gave everything a festive glow.
The tree at home was real and decorated with handmade children’s ornaments, four or five kinds of lights, and at least two boxes of tinsel. The tree in the shop was silver and adorned with decorations that changed style or color every couple of years; one year pink and red, blue and silver the next. And in the sixties, it was highlighted by a show-stopping, rotating multi-colored light.
My mother was a fabulous baker. Supervised by my grandmother, she made Swedish cookies and bread. She made Hungarian and Austrian pastries, including Linzer Torte, from my father’s side of the family. When cooled, these wonderful treats were wrapped in wax paper and placed in air tight cans that on the shelf in the garage. On the afternoon of Christmas Eve, I discovered the joy of quality control; I brought in the birds’ nest cookies and dropped a dollop of jam–usually apricot or strawberry –into these marvelous, one-bite delights. Everything assembled on my mother’s cookie tray was full of sugar and butter and love.
The wreath on the front door was adorned with tomtegubbas (Swedish elves) and small bundles of straw. The wreath at the back door was the traditional New England variety with red ribbons and silver bells.
No matter what holidays we all celebrated when we were children, those were the days when the milk man came every three days. The bread man came twice a week. The egg man came on Fridays, and the dry cleaner came on Mondays.
Light years ago.
Our own “Renaissance Woman,” Lydia has done everything from teaching English to doing volunteer emergency service. She says that, while she “hails from Woosta,” she’s been “– educated at BOLLI.” She serves as co-chair of BOLLI’s Writers Guild.