Posted tagged ‘church fair’

“Christmas is not a date. It is a state of mind.”

December 18, 2015

We have rain again. The house is dark because only the windows lights are lit. I like it that way.

I’m in list mode. I have a few going so the sticky notes are starting to cover my table. One note is a list of what I need to do today. Another is the numbers for tracking the only package which hasn’t been delivered to Colorado. A packing list is for the dog and the kennel and there’s one for me and my carry-on. Another list is for the cats and their sitter. I’m thinking I need a list of the lists.

When I was a kid, there was always a church fair held in the town hall. We  got a half day of school so we could go to the fair. The nuns brought us in rows of twos in long lines. My mother used to give us money for a hot dog and a drink. That was a big deal. We also had our Christmas money in case we found just the right gifts. A kids’ table was filled with possible presents for my whole family which cost a quarter for the big gifts and a dime for the small ones. I remember my mother sitting behind a table where she was working one Christmas.

I have never lost my love for church fairs. Now I head first to the table where the knit goods are sold. That is always the first table to sell out. I buy mittens and hats from the ladies, usually old ladies, who sit behind the table and make change slowly counting each coin and each bill as they put them in my hand. Sometimes I buy centerpieces and homemade ornaments. I love the white elephant tables where I sometimes find the best stuff. I go from fair to fair on one December Saturday. I usually treat myself to lunch.

The lists are sitting in front of reminding me to hurry. I have much to do.


“One of the most glorious messes in the world is the mess created in the living room on Christmas day. Don’t clean it up too quickly.”

December 21, 2013

Bedtime was around 1:30, and now I’m up, and it’s still dark. My newspapers aren’t even here yet, but I’ve had my first cup of coffee, always the best way to start a day. My trees are lit in the living room. That was the first thing I did.

Nothing is on my agenda for today except maybe laundry, kind of makes me look forward to the day. As if…

The house was warm when I woke up, 66˚, even though the thermostat was set at 62˚for nighttime. When I let Gracie out, I found outside also unexpectedly warm, especially for a dark morning in December. Yesterday the high was 54˚ so I did a couple of errands so I could enjoy the day. I bought dinner, and it was delicious: steak kabobs with peppers and onions and roasted rosemary potato wedges. For dessert I had a couple of peanut butter balls my sister had made from my mother’s recipe. They are a Christmas tradition. My mother would make a huge batch and freeze some of them so in February she’d surprise us by bringing them out for dessert. They never lasted too long at Christmas or in February.

When I was in elementary school, the church fair was always a week or two before Christmas. It was in the auditorium at the town hall, a short walk from school. Fair day was always a half-day. At dismissal we’d walk in twos, class by class, with the nuns accompanying us. Once at the town hall we were free. The Christmas fair was a huge occasion, and my mother always gave us money to shop and to buy lunch, usually hot dogs. I remember the best table in the fair was the kids’ table. It was the place to Christmas shop as it was filled with inexpensive gifts for us to buy for our families. I’d walk round and round the table picking up and putting down gifts always trying to find just the right presents. After I did, I’d hand them to the woman behind the counter, somebody’s mother as the fair was run by the mother’s club. She’d bag them, collect my money then hand the precious bags to me. That usually signaled the end of the fair for me. I’d walk home with my gifts and hide them in my room, usually under the bed or in the closet. I’d take them out of their secret hiding place several times to check on them until finally I’d wrap them. I made sure to use lots of paper and tape. I was always so proud of those gifts.

“When we recall Christmas past, we usually find that the simplest things – not the great occasions – give off the greatest glow of happiness.”

December 16, 2011

I was surprised at how warm it felt when I got the papers this morning. The day, from the window, looked cold. The sunlight is steely, and there is a wind blowing even the biggest pine tree trunks back and forth. Last night it rained, and the drops pelted the door and windows. Gracie wasn’t too happy when she had to make her last trip outside before bedtime.

Around this time of year, my school, St. Patrick’s Grammar School, held its annual fair. It was a really big deal and it was held at the huge meeting room in the town hall which had moveable wooden seats, a stage and an orchestra pit under the stage and was where we made our record with Guy Lombardo. On the day of the fair, we only had a half day of school. The nuns would walk us down the street two blocks to the town hall, and, once there, we were free, on our own. The first stop was always for lunch, a hot dog, a rare treat to have the money to buy. It made me feel rich plunking down the money for lunch. That was thanks to my mother who always gave us enough money so we could buy the hot dog and still have some left to buy a few gifts for the family. Tables ringed the room, and on them were all sorts of gifts for Christmas. I could buy crochet doilies, knitted mittens and hats, plants in all sorts of containers, baked goods and just about anything else you can imagine one of the mothers might have made, but I always headed to the kids’ table. It was filled with gifts to buy for the family and most were only a dime or a quarter. I’d walk up and down the table looking for the perfect gifts for my parents and for my sisters and brother. My mother often got a plant, my father a hankerchief. Once I bought army men for my brother. I don’t remember what I bought for my sisters, but I figure it could have been baby bottles for their dolls, the sort where the milk seemed to disappear.

Those gifts weren’t ever much, but I always felt proud that I could buy them and have something to give at Christmas. When I’d get home from the fair, I’d hide my packages until I could wrap them. The most excitment came when I’d put them under the tree and then tease my sisters about what I had bought them. That was always fun.

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