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Making Lists for Santa in the House of Children

When baby boomers like myself get together to reminisce about the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays of our childhoods, there is often talk of the toy catalogs and the long lists we made for Santa. Thanksgiving Day was the start of the long vigil to that all-important Christmas Day.

When I was a girl, Thanksgiving Day was a big celebration. Not just for the sheer number of family members, but also for the great preparations that went into that turkey dinner for at least 16 or more seated around a long dining table and a few card tables.

Some of the best memories of my parents are of them working together in the kitchen to make the dinner. Yes, my Dad had a hand in the preparations — sometimes to the chagrin of my mother. He often made quite a mess that Mom and my sisters would have to clean up.

Both parents donned silly aprons, large pots would be simmering on the stove and Perry Como would be singing on one of the many cassette tapes my Mom kept in the kitchen. One or both of the family dogs would position themselves under the kitchen table in hopes of being tossed some scraps from the menu.

My Aunt Louise and Uncle Foxie would drive up from Moundsville, and Louise would wow us with one of her famous pies. I liked the lemon meringue better than butterscotch but there were always several to enjoy. She also took time to teach us how to knit and crochet.

Thanksgiving and Christmas dinner were some of the few days of the year when we would all sit down as a family and dine together.

Thanksgiving Day was pretty much the jumping off point for making our lists to Santa. The Sears catalog and local ad inserts from the newspaper were compiled for us to peruse. The older children helped the younger ones with their requests and letters to Santa.

Many Thanksgivings have passed since those days in The House of Children and each of us has gone in directions far and wide with families of our own.

However, up until the passing of the matriarch of the family three years ago, we continued to put names in an old hat and carry on with the gift exchange among siblings.

Over the years, the exchanges were silly, often gag gifts. We sometimes passed around and traded our “gifts” with each other. As families grew, we let go of some of the traditions and each family started their own ways of celebrating. However, we tried our best to gather for Thanksgiving.

This year will certainly be much different for all of us. With the pandemic looming larger than ever, common sense must dictate when it comes to large gatherings around the turkey and stuffing. I know it’s not going to be easy for many people, but it is a great opportunity to try something new — think outside the box.

I know some family members are organizing a very large ZOOM meeting in lieu of a Thanksgiving get together. It won’t be the same, but to see and hear from loved ones in some fashion might just be the way to brighten the day.

Why not ask Alexa to put some fun Christmas music on while you’re cooking up your meal. Have the little ones make turkey decorations out of handprints and paper plates. Start making those Christmas lists and pull the holiday decorations out of the attic.

Whatever you do this holiday season, be mindful of each other, be safe and laugh.

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