Christmas time fires the imagination. Little children’s thoughts center around everything associated with Santa Claus; toys, the north pole, reindeer and snow. As we get older, we are Santa Claus and then begin to look like him. I am in the latter stage without a beard.
Mostly, at Christmas we reflect on our childhood and friends through the years. I have never seen chestnuts roasting on an open fire and have only seen a White Christmas a couple of times, so these things aren’t in my memory bank. I do think about some special foods such as old fashioned chocolate-covered cream drops, which were sort of coned shaped. The chocolate covering was thick and wavy. I got these only once a year as stocking stuffers. I also remember ambrosia for dinner, which was a mixture of oranges and fresh ground coconut. It was always my job to crack the coconut and dissect the delicious meat away from the shell. This could be a tough job for a little kid but I got to sample the wears. Too much sampling was a good purgative. The other special refreshment at Christmas was eggnog. This concoction was rich and thick, and oh, so delicious. It was the only sampling of alcohol I was permitted other than a hot toddy for a cold.
Next to the man who started it, Charles Dickens has had as much to do with our vision of Christmas as any other person in history. His story, A Christmas Carol, is a classic. He also has other great stories about Christmas. One of my favorites is from the Pickwick Papers in Chapter 28. “Happy, happy Christmas, that can win us back to the delusions of our childish days, that can recall to the old man the pleasures of his youth, that can transport the sailor and the traveler, thousands of miles away, back to his own fireside and his quiet home!
I love to conjure up the vision of Dickens characters, standing in the snow by a lamplight, singing Christmas Carols. Some things in Dickens times are hard for me to appreciate, like the Christmas Goose the Cratchit family had for dinner. I just don’t care for a fat goose, even on Christmas. Turkey in Dickens day was a meal for the more affluent. After Scrooge’s enlightenment by the ghosts of Christmas, he sticks his head out the window on Christmas morning and ask a little boy to run purchase the large prize turkey hanging in the market and deliver it to the Cratchits. The boy receives half a crown for his effort. I’m sure Mrs, Cratchit was thrilled to see the boy on Christmas morning with a large feathered, undressed turkey in his hands. At my house he would have been greeted with, “you have got to be kidding.” If I brought an undressed turkey or goose to the house, my goose would have been cooked. I’ve always wondered how Mrs. Cratchit went about preparing that bird in short order for lunch when the family was already getting ready to sit down for the meal.
Anyway, as I sit on the porch and ponder about Christmas there are pleasant thoughts as well as some unanswered questions.