I posted this last year and it is as relevant this year. I added a paragraph and some Victorian pictures. Please feel free to use them-click on them to enlarge and save to your files.
When I was growing up, we lived next door to my grandparents. They had an old shingle house with a formal parlor in it. It was a magical place. In the summer it was cool and private, and I was allowed to go in there and read all I wanted. The shelves were filled with flowered poetry books, boys adventure stories and other wonderful things.
There were two closets, one on either side of the fireplace. In one there was a Civil War uniform. I vaguely remember faded flowered wallpaper over white painted wainscotting and the fireplace wall was all white paneled. There was a tinder box and a bed warmer on the hearth. The furniture was victorian and dainty and pretty. There was a piano-out of tune, but pretty too-did it have flowers carved into it? On one wall was a picture of a boy in a straw hat, by Thomas Sully. The floor was worn wide boards with rugs on it.
Christmas eves my grandparents had a party in the parlor, with a tree and sweets hand made by grandma. Mom played carols on the piano and we all sang. The fire crackled and we opened hand-made gifts wrapped in old ironed paper and ribbons. That was my job, to iron the ribbons and paper. We made popcorn garlands. Grandma made potato divinity and stuffed dates. I don't remember having a whole meal, though if we did, we ate it in the dining room. Grandpa twinkled and told stories, and the uncles teased us all. That's filed away in my memory for ever.
Grandma died on September 1st the year I was 13. That Christmas Grandpa wanted us to have the party in the parlor like before. It was sweet and sad till Grandpa brought out the gifts. They had all been wrapped by Grandma before she died. There was a purple apron and a string of purple buttons for me-my favorite color! I still channel Grandma at Christmas. She and Grandpa, who died the next year are close to the surface of my heart.
I haven't been in the parlor since 1974, just before I moved to Colorado for 20 years. Now it is out of my realm--other family members live there--but I have my memory. They say long-term memory is the longest lasting...I have my own traditions now, and I hope that I retain the spirit of those long ago Christmases. I glean gifts from around the house or make my own. I reuse paper and gift bags. I don't iron anymore, though!
I hope you all have a lovely holiday season. Stay warm and cozy!