“Heap on the wood! – the wind is chill; But let it whistle as it will, We’ll keep our Christmas merry still.”

Winter has finally reared its head and today is only 38°. The day even has a chilly look with the light seemingly wan, almost dim, as if the sun has too little energy to fight the cold and is finally giving in to the change of seasons. The breeze is slight and barely rustles the leaves at the ends of the branches. I’m still in my cozies and quite comfy and warm. I can hear Gracie’s deep breathing as she’s napping on the couch behind me. The cats have their own spots during the day; one is on a couch pillow in the other room and the other is on my still unmade bed curled on a blanket. The animals in my house lead tough lives.

When I was a kid, I lived in a house with no chimney, but not once did I ask my mother how Santa would bring us toys. I always just figured he was magical, and the lack of a chimney would be no hindrance. Seeing all the Santas around town never diminished my belief in the one true Santa Claus. I knew the rest were like elves and had jobs to do to help Santa, and, besides, you never saw the real Santa. That was part of the code of belief.

I remember going through the Sears catalog and circling then initialing the toys I wanted so there would be no questions. When I wrote my letters to Santa, I included the toy numbers so he could see exactly what I wanted. It never occurred to me that maybe he didn’t have a Sears catalog. I think I figured everyone did. My list was always long and never included clothes. When I was little, I always thought clothes were a waste of a gift. When I got older, they were the best gifts.

I remember learning Up on the Rooftop in school. We sang it often with rousing good cheer, almost like an anthem to Santa. I also remember the nuns reminding us that Santa was merely a secondary character in the whole of Christmas. It was, after all, a birthday we were celebrating.

My mother put up a crèche every Christmas, and we had an advent wreath most years. The figures in the crèche were made of what I now know was chalkware. It wasn’t all that durable, and some of our figures had no noses, the one body part especially vulnerable to time. I have a similar crèche of my own which I’ve accumulated one piece at a time from all different chalkware sets. Many of my figures have no noses.

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6 Comments on ““Heap on the wood! – the wind is chill; But let it whistle as it will, We’ll keep our Christmas merry still.””

  1. olof1 Says:

    We never had to worry about a chimney since he came through the door 🙂 But I’ve herad that in southern Europe they believe he comes through a window at night. Some have dolls where half the body hangs out the window 🙂 🙂 🙂

    I can’t remember ever circling things I wanted for christmas. I did write him a letter but I think I was rather vague in what special brand I wanted, just as long as it was a train or what ever it was I wished for 🙂

    But I think I could have skipped any present if they had promised me that I didn’t have to meet him at all 🙂 🙂

    Have a great day!
    Christer.

    • Kat Says:

      Christer,
      In the movie The Santa Claus, he even goes into the house by those tiny pipes on the roof. His body adjusts. The door seems too easy.

      We just had that one catalogue so we were more specific.

      When I was around 4 and my brother 3, he came to our house. I sat on his lap and told him what I wanted. My brother was so scared he wouldn’t come out of his bedroom!

  2. Hedley Says:

    Kat, as you know in those early days in Yarm Court Rosd, Leatherhead, the fireplace was a major part of the heating system for the house. We regularly was the chimney sweep and enjoyed the drama of the brush emerging from the top of the chimney pot (very Mary Poppins but no Dick Van Dyke).
    Anyways we were well positioned to write our letters to Father Christmas, put them on the fire and allow the remnants to float into the magical hands of the Jolly Fat Man. Milk and cookies waited for his arrival..maybe even a stiff drink but I can’t really remember.

    • Kat Says:

      My Dear Hedley,
      I said before I love the idea of writing the letters, putting them on the fire and letting them waft through the air to Santa. Putting them in the mail just seems a bit conventional by comparison.

      We always left milk and cookies too. Santa always obliged us by taking a bite or two out of the cookie and having a sip of milk. They were always sugar cookies sometimes in the shape of Santa. I wonder now if it isn’t a but cannibalistic.

  3. Caryn Says:

    Hi Kat,
    We didn’t have a fireplace for Santa to come down but we did have a chimney. It was in the wall next to the china closet in the dining room. Every Christmas, until the youngest of us no longer believed, my mother would take everything out of the china closet so that Santa could get in without breaking the dishes. We never asked how he managed to get through the bricks and plaster. Santa was magical.
    I remember learning Up on the Rooftop by listening to others sing it. I never saw it written. For many years I thought the opening words were “Up on the rooftop reindeer paws”. Always bugged me. Reindeer don’t have paws and the line would make no sense whatsoever even if they did. What about their paws? It did eventually dawn on me that the word might be “pause”. Yeah, I was a weird little kid. 🙂
    The weather is cold but sunny. The porch is warm so my front door is open but Rocky is conked out on the couch next to me. He was at doggy day care yesterday and last night so he is all played out. He will sleep long today.
    Enjoy the rest of your day.

    • Kat Says:

      Hi Caryn,
      We had neither until we moved down the Cape but by then we were all in on the secret of Santa Claus.

      I love your mother going to all that trouble and like you, I knew Santa was magical. I never questioned his flying through the whole world and having plenty of toys.

      You’re like the song Olive the Other Reindeer. Nope, not a weird kid. Lots of people hear the words differently to songs.

      It is 10:00 and the weather is freezing. It’s the coldest night so far. 27° is definitely winter!


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