Bubble lights. Angel hair. An orange and nuts. Rudolph and little dolls. Stencils on windows. Icicles and little village. Christmas elf and, well, you get the idea. Memories from Neff Road. Pieces of Christmas that brought joy to the Loxley household…and those that hang on my tree still.
The big box was brought out each Christmas. A box that seemed to tall to peek into. A box that was even more exciting than the Christmas gifts. I am not sure where that box resided during the rest of the year, but when Dad hefted it into the living room, we knew that Christmas was officially here.
We tried to wait patiently while Dad put on the lights. I was usually parked next to a bubble light just waiting for it to heat up. If it was sluggish, Dad flicked it with his fingers and the bubbles danced. One by one the ornaments were taken from the magical box and handed to the Loxley daughters. Once the angel, with spun glass hair, was placed atop the tree, Mom opened the box of icicles. One by one we draped them over the limbs. Once in awhile June was known to toss them when no one was looking. Well, no one but her little sister. Mom put up the little cardboard houses for the Christmas village with a mirror in the middle on which little figures skated.
A package of stencils was opened while Mom prepared the Glass Wax. We painted over the stencils adding Santa’s face, angels, all sorts of wonderful Christmas designs to the big, old windows in this magical house. Bit by bit Christmas came to the house back the lane. A visit to Rikes in Dayton was extra special. Children with noses pasted to the big windows, watching elves pop out of snow drifts and Santa peeking out of a chimney. Then off to Santa’s Village.
In 1951 the cartoon version of Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer was released in movie theatres. In 1949 Gene Autry sang the song about this red-nosed guy, topping music charts. About this same time, the family was riding the elevator up to the top floor to see Rudolph. The littlest of the family was busy looking at her new doll that had just arrived in the mail. A sweet doll, Bonny Braids, who was the daughter of Dick Tracy and Tess Trueheart. (Sure wish I still had that doll!).
We sang carols at the piano next to the tree. Seems we sang them all day long during those special days. We sang of a baby in a manger as well as a guy who was coming to town. We sang at home and we sang at church. We waited for that baby in a manger. Our hearts were warmed by the congregation surrounding us who were neighbors and friends. People who were in essence, all family.
Our sock on Christmas morning sagged with the weight of an orange and a few nuts. A small present might be hiding in that length of that sock. A simple gift might be under the tree. Our hearts were bursting with love for family and friends who stopped by. The same love I feel today for those memories and dear ones. I thank God for the gift of remembering, for the fullness of life I had living in that house with such a dear family. Gifts of music, simple life, loving neighbors continue to fill my heart.
Merry Christmas, my dear ones. I hope this column has jiggled a few memories loose that you can savor this holiday season. May the memories you make today be equally cherished by those you love.