We exchanged emails and a couple of years later when my son went to England on a holiday they hosted him for a week at their home. They were horrified to discover that JS had never had a proper English Yule so they invited friends and family and celebrated Christmas with him British style, crackers, gifts and all -- in October!
A bit later Hannah emailed me for help with a school assignment. She needed to collect true childhood Christmas stories from people in many places. The following is what I sent her.
A Christmas Secret
Marcie Hoye Cumberland
Shall I tell you about a funny Christmas gift I got one time? Actually, I didn't think it was too funny at the time but now I can laugh about it.
I was about six years old. We had all traveled to my Nana's house in Massachusetts from Pennsylvania. That trip took about 10 hours by car and we went at night after my Dad got home from work. Four small children,wrapped in blankets and all packed into our station wagon with presents, suitcases, and bags of groceries.
Well, for Christmas dinner all my relatives were there. Nana was my Dad's mum but even my other Grandma was at her house that day with my Mom's brother, Uncle Jimmy. After dinner we all went into the parlor to open presents.
Uncle Jimmy was nice although not too smart about what to buy little girls for Christmas. But he knew I liked Peanut Brittle, which is sort of a toffee with peanuts in it. So he bought me a box of that.
A big box.
A very big box!
A very very big box!
In fact, he bought me a 10-pound box of peanut brittle!
I was so excited when I opened it because it was my favorite candy. But before I could even have one little taste, my mom reminded me to be polite and pass it around the room. I wasn't too pleased about that, but of course, I had to do it.
I started walking around the room. Nana took a little piece and Grandma took another little piece. Mom and Daddy each had a piece. Granddad took a piece and then Aunt Margie had a tiny piece. She was on a diet because she was going to get married soon.
Next was her boyfriend who was going to become my Uncle Johnny. He was a football player and he took a nice big piece. Then he took another big piece for later! (I didn't think that was polite.)
Grand Aunt Sadie and Grand Uncle Eddie each took small pieces but they had false teeth so they sucked off all the candy and threw away the nuts. I thought that was wasteful.
Uncle Paul was there with his girlfriend and they each took a piece. Grand Aunt Mary said, "No thank you, Dear, I don't care for any" I decided I liked her a lot that day.
My grown up cousin and her husband each took a couple of pieces. I remember I wanted to tell everybody it wasn't polite to take more than one but my Mother saw my expression and said "uh uh uh". Then it got worse because their kids (and they had a lot of them-at least 5) each grabbed the biggest pieces they could find and handled most of the others. Then came my little brothers. But mom told them "Just one piece boys."
Finally, I got back to Uncle Jimmy who looked in the box and saw it was almost empty. "I'm sorry, Little Girl." he said. He took one small piece and handed me back the box.
At last, I got to sit on the floor and eat a piece of peanut brittle- there were only 6 pieces left in the box!
I heard Grandma and Nana "tsk-tsking" and saying it was an inappropriate gift for a child. All I could wonder was; how come, if it was so inappropriate, they had all eaten all my candy?
The next day Uncle Jimmy took me for a walk. We went straight to the candy store where he bought me a little bag filled with root beer barrels -my other favorite candy- and tucked them into my coat pocket.
That was my little Christmas secret!
(c) 2003 MHC
See ya down the road,