After the parade it was time to head down the street to the Bon Ton where Santa was patiently waiting to hear what each child wanted for Christmas. Invariably, my list included all the wonderful toys I had circled in the aptly named Sears & Roebuck Wish Book. One item that I longed for, but regretfully never received, was a Kenner Easy Bake Oven. According to the advertising on the box there were over a million sold, but obviously not to the Kelley family! Perhaps my parents knew I could not be trusted. To this day, I have accepted that fact that I will never earn a spot on the British Baking Show! No white tent for me. I did, however, recently find an Easy Bake Oven at a secondhand store and can’t wait to try it out. Better late than never as they say.
Before leaving town, the final stop was the Historic Courthouse to pick out a Christmas tree. They were propped against the side of the building, and you perused the rows, making sure you picked the perfect one. Once we arrived at home, it was time to put up the tree. My brother and I made ourselves scarce while the tree was straightened, and the lights hung since we understood this could be a stressful process. The lights were always the large, multi-colored bulbs. I am sure you remember them, the ones that you could barely touch when lit because they got so incredibly hot. It makes one wonder how we failed to burn the house down, pairing these blistering, hot bulbs with a dried-out tree.
Then it was our turn to decorate. This of course meant red and green paper chains, strung popcorn, Shiny Brite ornaments and piles and piles of tinsel or as some called them, icicles. If you were wearing a sweater or had any sort of static cling, there would be more on you than on the tree, for they stuck like glue. My thrifty mother had us remove and save these clingy little rascals to use again the next year.
We also hung green felt elves with red trim on the tree. They sat with their legs tucked up into their clasped hands (a creepy forerunner to the current Elf on the Shelf.) Why is it do you suppose that everything looked much creepier back then? Have you ever seen a 1960’s Santa costume? The mask is terrifying, the things nightmares are made of, but I digress.
Once the tree was trimmed and the halls were decked, we were ready for the celebrations to begin. I am so thankful for these precious memories and have worked hard to keep them alive in my children and my grandchildren. For when you strip away all the holiday hustle, bustle, and hoopla isn’t it all about showing our loved ones just how important they are to us? May you and yours have a blessed, memory making, holiday season.
Rhonda S. Kelley, Executive Director, Juniata River Valley Chamber of Commerce