Finding Christmas Memories in the Attic on a Hot Summer Day


I am on the move again which entails sorting, throwing out, and having serendipity moments of long-forgotten memories.  We are having a summer of consistent 100+ degree days, making work in the attic rough sledding.  I made another sweep through my attic early in the morning, the coolest it will be in the attic, and noted a box of memorabilia belonging to my son.  Before throwing the whole thing out, I thought I should take a peek.  I found many things which he would love to have including newspaper headlines of significant events which became historic such as Gorbachev tearing down the wall.  There were birthday and Valentine cards.  One from his sister (now deceased) which is sooo Karin.  On the envelope, she wrote, “GREG   😐  Have a Day!”  (She was famous for drawing

Have a Day

everywhere — on blackboards at school, on papers, etc.  Her signature that she was there.)  Then she wrote, “who else? —- you’re the only twirp w/ a B-Day!” The card itself reads, “Brother, if Noah were filling his ark today . . .   . . . He’d have a hard time finding another one like you!  Happy Birthday!”  Then she wrote more Have a Day faces inside with more tidbits of her humor including a drawing of a bee and saying “Have a Bee-Day! (B-Day).”

Another card is sooo typical of his grandparents.  My son has a Christmas birthday (Dec. 23) as do I (Dec. 28).  So I am keenly aware of how Christmas birthdays can be overlooked.  He received a Christmas card from grandparents.  Before signing their name, they wrote, “Happy Birthday.”  A birthday card with an added “Merry Christmas” would have been a better choice.

Apparently,  in fourth grade, he was to ask a grandparent about how they celebrated Christmas.  My mother responded with a delightful, memorable letter.

“I never had to travel away from home to be with my grandparents, uncles, aunts, and cousins, because we lived all in a row.”  My children had to travel 12 hours to see their relatives.  “They would take turns each year to have the Christmas dinner and the tree, laden with all the gifts from each other.  After dinner dishes were cleared away, our gifts would be opened.  We were anxious to see what Grandad bought us as it would be something special.”  (One year Grandad gave his granddaughters a Lane cedar hope chest.  I have my mother’s.)  “Grandma sewed, making us things.


Frank L. Putnam

“Before Christmas, Grandad would give each of us children $2 and take us to Woolworth’s 5 & 10 cent store to buy gifts.  You couldn’t believe the lovely things, including toys, you could buy for $.10 in the 1920’s.

“Of course, each family had their own tree too, which had been cut down by our fathers on the hillsides.  When I was real young, our tree was decorated with red and green garlands.  I remember they were prickly to touch.  Also candles about 4 inches tall would fit into little metal containers, with a clip on the bottom that you would clip to the end branches.  (I still have one of these I put on my tree each year.)

“When I was 7 years old, electricity was available to Richburg, and we all had our homes wired.  Now, we could buy electric cords with sockets for little colored light bulbs.  Much like you have.  However, if one bulb burned out, all went out.  so, you would take a new one and search for the one that burned out.

“I remember our icecyles [sic] were made of tinfoil.  We always had tinsel on our tree as far back as I can remember.  I wonder what material it was made of.  Perhaps tinfoil too.

“Christmas was a very exciting time.  We cousins running back and forth to see what each bought for gifts to others in the family.  Then Christmas morning — to see what Santa brought each of us.  Then our Christmas dinner together — and the Tree!  It sure was a full exciting day!

“Maybe I will be with you this Christmas.  Love, Grandma.”


About 9awalsh

A genealogist and writer who has uncovered legacy stories which must be told. I also write a blog, Deciphering Life, trying to figure out why life becomes so tangled --
This entry was posted in Christmas, Family, Memories and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Finding Christmas Memories in the Attic on a Hot Summer Day

  1. Andy Oldham says:

    Very nice memoir!


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