From Pipi’s Pasture: A childhood Christmas Eve
Each year when the Christmas season rolls around, my mind wanders back to my childhood days when I was growing up on the ranch at Morapos. Whenever I write about growing up experiences, I marvel at how much I’ve forgotten or perhaps how I have chosen to remember things. My siblings often remember events another way. So here it goes.
Mom always mixed up a pot of oyster stew for Christmas Eve. I don’t remember what else we had. Mom had cooked for days, baking little applesauce cakes, candies (I especially remember the fudge and chocolate-covered cherries), and a lot more. She always fussed that what she had cooked “wasn’t very good.”
When she was finished, everything was wrapped and delivered to relatives and neighbors at Morapos and Deer Creek. The delivery fell to Dad and us kids. Grandma and Grandpa Osborn and uncles lived up Deer Creek, which was over the hill from our place. During the years of a lot of snow, Dad saddled a horse and took the gifts to them that way. He knew the way well since he had ridden across the hill to attend the Morapos School when he was a kid.
Anyway, when all of the deliveries were made and the corral chores were done, we settled down to our oyster stew supper. Then after the dishes were cleared from the table, we all gathered around it to open the Christmas cards. The only person who opened the cards before Christmas Eve was Mom who read the enclosed letters while making out our cards. Passing the cards around started with Mom who had the pile in front of her. She read letters out loud and then started the cards around the table. What a wonderful way to be in touch with friends and family!
Next, we hung up our stockings — not “boughten” ones but regular stockings. Sometimes we chose one of Mom’s old nylon stockings. We put out treats for Santa and some candy dishes, in hopes that Santa would fill them.
Sleeping on Christmas Eve seemed nearly impossible, but I guess we did — some at least. We kids slept upstairs, and we listened for noises downstairs. I remember hoping that I wouldn’t have to get up to visit the outhouse, for fear of scaring Santa off.
Finally it was Christmas morning. We heard Dad and Mom rummaging around downstairs, making a fire and such. It was always before daylight. It was years before I realized that Christmas would come if it was light outside.
Finally, Dad called us. We dressed in a hurry and rushed down the stairs. The Christmas tree “sat” in the corner of the living room, and underneath it were our Christmas gifts, always unwrapped. Dad and Mom sat at the dining room table watching us. The bowls on the table were filled with chocolates, orange slices, and hard candies such as ribbon candy and filled raspberry candies.
After we took in our Santa gifts and the Christmas candy, we opened our stockings. I don’t remember much about the contents, except for the orange and/or apple that were very special since we didn’t get very much fresh fruit during the winter. Then we opened the gifts under the tree — all of the presents we had been eying for days. There were quite a lot of them, since we received gifts from our relatives. Those were wonderful gifts — coloring books and crayons, picture books, games, children’s jewelry, handmade doll clothes, and doll dishes.
I may not remember all of the details exactly, but the warm feeling of Christmas is still there.
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Shelby Massey is an ag teacher and spirit coach at Moffat County High School. As a result of the impact that she has made on her students and her athletes, she has been nominated for…