Saturday, December 4, 2010

Christmas Stories

It came to my attention tonight that I did not have a normal upbringing when it came to Christmas. A little background information is required first. Allow me to set the genealogical stage, if you will.

I am German. OK, I'm American, but if you look at my ancestry, it's about 90-95% German with a little British/Welsh thrown in for good measure. I have embraced my heritage and can speak a smattering of German, but I'm nowhere near as good as my paternal grandmother. But we're not talking about her today. Oh, no. Today we're talking about my mother's family. The family from whence my good china came and from where, also, I got the stuff I'm talking about today.

My mother's grandmother came from a well-to-do family, the kind of family for whom the Great Depression didn't mean as much as it did for farming communities. My mother's grandmother's name was Frieda. Frieda Margaretha Magdalena Baden. At least she was a Baden till she married a Hellwig, but never mind. Frieda's family spoke primarily Low German, which is closer to Dutch in origin, and apparently the stories her family learned for the holiday season are pretty close to the stories the Dutch still tell today. I know this because my friend Berber is from Holland and shared her holiday traditions with my mom's group recently, and it matched the stories my mother used to tell me.

Enough background; on to the good stuff. These are some Christmas tree ornaments that I've apparently had since I was four. The year is written on the back, along with my name, or I'd have no idea. In my world, they've just always been there.

I love the ornaments. I think they're beautiful. I love the old Victorian-looking Santas. Just gorgeous. What Christmas should be, in my mind. I thought they were older than they are; apparently they were made in 1977 or 1981, depending on the ornament, but they're still pretty.

My mother used to tell me stories about the ornaments, and about how Santa (Sinterklaas, she always called him when she talked about these stories) would come and visit the children and leave presents down the chimney. But only if you were good!

If you weren't good... well, then, THIS would happen:

... and Sinterklaas would whisk you away to his workshop, and you'd become one of his Black Pete's.

Forget coal and sticks. This was the stuff true Christmas nightmares were made of.

Sweet dreams, everyone!

1 comment:

Mom on the Verge said...

Okay, that just BEGS a "Woo-hoo!" *ahem* I mean, how Grimm...