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Local lifestyle columnists

Christmases of days gone by

By From page A2 | December 21, 2012

Looking back, I still remember the magical feeling of kinda believing in Santa Claus, but three questions gave me pause:

  1. We had no fireplace – and the cardboard mantle we hung our stockings on didn’t fool me – so how would Santa get in the house?
  2. If he brought gifts on Christmas Eve, why the heck were there ones already under the tree?
  3. Me and my brothers were naughty for 51 weeks a year – shouldn’t Santa actually come and confiscate the toys we had rather than bring us new ones?

Others shared:

Patricia Mason-Wiley: “The day after Thanksgiving, you could drive through downtown Fairfield and see the little Santa Shack on the corner of Jefferson and Texas streets. That’s when you knew Christmas was close. He even remembered my name from year to year. Back in the 1960s he handed out big candy canes!”

Dave Covey: “In the ‘60s, somewhere in the state streets, there was a house that had aluminum foil on the whole lawn to look like an iced-over pond. The lighting was so cool!”

Glenn P. Dunlap: “On Christmas, the entire family would meet at my grandparents’ house in Oakland. Grandmother would make her famous oyster dressing, jambalaya, sweet potato pies, ham, chitlins, collard greens, etc. The spread was amazing. Good food, good music, lots of laughter, good times. Christmas back in the day had a real sense of family and community.”

Judy Anderson Engell: “My mom was a church choir director. She would take neighborhood kids, including her own six kids, Christmas caroling in the old-town Fairfield neighborhoods and at convalescent homes. She had us all wear pseudo-choir robes – white sheets with giant crepe-paper bows around our necks. One of our stops was a woman whose street I now live on and she’s still there, too!”

Wanda Yates: “I remember the year Santa arranged all our presents by kid. There was a Debbie pile, a Wanda pile, a Brenda pile and a Verda pile. As a kid you like to run, jump and dive into the pile and get all excited when you find one with your name on it. The next year I smashed his cream puffs and stuck my finger in his milk. He never did that again!”

Debra Merritt Bruflat: “My parents had an electric three-candle decoration that burned bright in our living room window every Christmas on Jefferson Street from 1960 until they passed away. That decoration is beat-up and old now, but still burning in my own window up in Windsor today.”

Laura Deal: “I remember the year my folks took us out to cut down our Christmas tree. While playing with my dolls, I noticed that the carpet underneath me was moving. There was a spider nest in the tree and spiders were on my legs, my arms, the floor – it was pure horror! To this day, more than 25 years later, I refuse to bring a freshly cut tree into my house!”

Tracy Vest: “We had a special ornament that was purple with a winter scene and had “Silent Night” written in script on it. Every year the five of us kids would argue over who got to place it on the tree and being the youngest, I never got to put it in its place of prominence. It became a casualty when the tree fell over. There is still debate to this day that I did it deliberately.”

Linda Ueki Absher: “When I was around 8 years old, Dad announced he was assigned temporary duty in Asia for a year. The closer the holidays came, the more depressed I was about the fact we would be going through the holidays without him. One night after Mom dragged us to her friend’s house for a visit, we pulled into our driveway and I noticed the kitchen lights were on. I thought it was strange since we didn’t leave any lights on when we weren’t there. Mom opened up the door and there stood Dad, still in his flight suit. Turned out they cut his duty short in times for the holidays. He didn’t even stop to change clothes, but headed straight home.”

Fairfield writer Tony Wade wishes you all a Merry old-school Christmas. Reach him at [email protected].

Tony Wade

Tony Wade

Tony Wade is the slightly older yet infinitely more handsome brother of long-time DR columnist Kelvin Wade

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