When the Advent Calendar “assignment” first came out, I was excited that I finally had a primer of basic questions to ask my Mom about her memories growing up!  We talked alot – in person and online – to see what she remembered.  Sometimes, there’d be days with no word from her as she was packing her house to get ready to move to a condo so I also got input from my uncle and it was interesting to see how their memories differed.  But I started the assignment with gusto and then developed a passion to write a poem for my Mom for Christmas so that she would have a record of everything we had discussed.  The project grew and grew and basically took over all of my free time – especially when I decided to use the family photos that I have been collecting to illustrate the poem.  I put them into Photoshop and used different filters to try my best to make them look like hand sketched illustrations (which really worked GREAT for photos that weren’t in focus to begin with!)

So while I feel like I failed the “assignment”, I’m so happy that I will have this gift to give to my mother on Christmas this year and I’d like to share it with you as well.  (Please remember, I’m a math teacher and punctuation is not my strong suit!)

I’m praying that everyone has a joyous holiday season celebrating the Birth of our Savior Jesus Christ!

T’was two weeks before Christmas and time to prepare,
For the glad Christmas season the family would share.
Selecting a tree from those on display,
Each side of the tree she’d carefully survey.

While times were not easy and money was tight,
Christmas was special and deserved to be right.
Gifts under the tree would be pretty spare,
But they had each other so they didn’t care.

A slice from the trunk of the tree they’d remove,
“Is it straight in the stand?” Mom would have to approve.
How long it would last was always the test,
So Jack added water to keep the tree fresh.

The jumbo sized bulbs in each string of lights,
Were the first items added to make the tree bright.
If one bulb went out, the whole string would go,
Each bulb must be checked to make the string glow.

Bells for the tree!  Betty decided were needed,
She’d make them herself so for milk lids she pleaded.
The round disks of foil were cut as she’d sing,
Then shaped into bells to hang with some string.

Aromas of popcorn would drift from the kitchen,
With thread and a needle they all would then pitch in,
To make a long garland to add to the tree,
The nicest tree ever, they all would agree.

Icicle strands must hang perfectly straight,
Hung one at a time, quite a shimmer they’d make.
So carefully saved from the previous year,
They’d drape from each branch to add holiday cheer.

A star on the top to remember the reason,
for sparkle and shine at the holiday season.
The star that led shepherds with flocks they were keeping,
To manger so far where sweet Jesus lay sleeping.

A little white church atop some fake snow,
Another small building the “village” did show.
Imagine the carolers in this small town,
And children asleep on their pillows of down.

Frosty glass windows – a canvas revealed,
For scratching out snowflakes or trees in a field.
Toss socks through the transom, a fun game to play,
When weather was too harsh and inside they’d stay.

Uncles might visit to bring Christmas cheer,
To help them to celebrate this time of year.
A bag full of pennies for children to count;
A small bit of money to help Mother out.

From the kitchen some music would quietly play,
The radio helped the time pass and she’d pray;
Provisions she’d need to take care of her brood,
While Christmas songs lifted up everyone’s mood.

“You’d better watch out”, Gene Autry would say,
For Rudolph and all his friends pulling the sleigh.
“Santy” is watching for good girls and boys,
To see who’ll get coal and who will get toys.

Winter-time laundry hung outside to dry,
Frozen and stiff clothes would come back inside.
While still slightly damp, she ironed and pressed,
To try to make hand-me-downs be at their best.

Sometimes a clothesline must be hung indoors,
Nails in the door jamb to help with this chore.
Five small argyle socks each hung from a nail,
For Betty insisted the custom’d prevail.

The stockings all hung, it was now time for bed,
Cold milk and a cookie for Santa to be fed.
Then under the blankets together for heat,
They’d whisper their secrets, then drift off to sleep.

A kiss for her mother ‘fore going to bed,
“Good night, Don!”,  “Good night, Jack” each night Betty said.
“To Phyllis and Barbara, good night to you too!”
Then Don ate the cookie for Santa, who knew?

But Betty and Jack did early arise,
To see any gifts ‘neath the tree to surprise.
Then back into bed to sleep in some more,
To dream and anticipate what was in store.

Morning arrived and they leaped out of bed,
A day full of laughter and playing ahead!
Bedrooms were cold and the floor felt like ice,
The heat from the stove in the kitchen felt nice!

The socks were now lumpy for Christmas treats filled;
To see the socks bulging each sibling was thrilled!
For Mother had saved to fill socks for each child;
She saw their excitement and quietly smiled.

An apple, an orange and chocolate drops sweet,
Hard candies and striped canes for children to eat.
A small handmade gift to give to each other,
For no one was closer than sister and brother.

Paper wrapped gifts lay under the tree,
One or two each made them giggle with glee!
A sled and a doll, a toy sewing machine
That really worked!  Can you imagine the scene?

A turkey with dressing the holiday meal,
Aroma and flavor they’d savor with zeal!
Sliced up and brown sugared, she fried sweet potatoes,
Marshmallows for topping, my goodness, they loved those!

A pan of fresh gingerbread, spicy and warm;
A spoonful of whipped cream like snow drifts would form.
Or mincemeat or pumpkin made into a pie,
Would make the meal special they would not deny!

Then outside to play in the afternoon snow!
With neighborhood kids all the gifts they would show.
Then taking a sled, down the hillside they’d slide
Or with their boots over some ice they would glide.

A stack of small snowballs the kids would prepare;
The snowballs went flying – bystanders beware!
The battle then over, they’d lay down to rest;
Wave arms and legs for a snow angel contest!

Back in the house feet so cold from the snow;
A warmed scarf was waiting to wrap around toes.
Dark cocoa powder, warm milk in a mug;
A warm winter drink to help them feel snug.

The end of the day, tired children to bed;
“So happy we’re family!” each one of them said.
Another year over, new memories to keep;
They prayed to thank Jesus and then fell asleep.