What are some of your favorite or most humorous Christmas memories from the past twenty years or so? I’m attempting to generate some semblance of Christmas spirit in myself this year, so thought I’d spread the cheer and see what it brings back to me.
It took some serious digging through my computer to come up with these photos. Sadly, I’ll have to dig through the basement to find my non-digitalized favorites of when my own kids were small. Oh, THOSE were some happy memories indeed! I may find them yet … but for now, I’ll limit this walk down memory lane to more recent years.
Well, maybe not all THAT recent. This photo of me was taken back in Michigan in the early 90’s, with my very first Border Collie, My Bonnie Lass (“Bonnie”) when she was not much more than a puppy. Oh my, I loved that sweet, timid girl! She is the dog who moved with me to Alaska a few years later, taking the seven day drive without a qualm and adjusting to life in the Alaskan woods with enthusiasm.
The next picture (below) evokes some wonderful memories … my first Christmas in Alaska – and my only Christmas in Anchorage! I can tell by the wood paneling and blinds behind the tree that this was taken in Jerry’s trailer in Anchorage. OH! It was a good thing we were still newly-weds! I was so happy to get out of that place the following summer! Moving from a 40-acre farm in the country to a tiny mobile home in a city – yikes! But it was our first Christmas together and I loved every minute of it. And it was truly a first for Jerry, too; single until age 45 and with no close family in Alaska, he hadn’t really celebrated Christmas in many years – and had never decorated for the holidays in the 16 years he’d lived in his trailer. Jer was working night shift that winter when I pulled out all of my beloved Christmas “stuff” (well, as much as would fit) and transformed the small space. It’s a wonder he didn’t turn and run right then and there. But I’ll give Jer credit – he embraced my holiday traditions with love and enthusiasm, if not understanding. I mean, stockings? Really?
Over the years since, I’ve moderated my Christmas decorating. Partly to compromise with Jerry’s continued lack of interest in the whole decorating thing … he doesn’t mind it, but I was mostly doing it for myself and after a while the incentive just wasn’t there anymore. And partly, I’ll admit, because with no family here to share it with, I’ve found it hard to sustain my Christmas cheer. Still, I do have great memories of some special Christmases over the past twenty years.
My Christmas trees got smaller over the years, eventually evolving into setting up a “Christmas Snowman” and setting presents around it’s base. Lots easier than putting up and decorating a tree – something I always ended up doing along anyway. The past few years, I’ve settled for hanging our stockings (I’m NOT giving up my Christmas stockings!), placing a few favorite decorations on the living room window sills and calling it good. Here’s a series of my ever-evolving Christmas décor over the years.
Still, decorating issues aside; Christmas wouldn’t be complete without our beloved critters. Some years, they make all the difference in the world. Here are a few who have made it into the Christmas album over the years.
The handsome orange boy is “Mokume Gato”, my Maine Coon (nearly 20 lbs. in his prime). He and gray tabby girl Damascus, were Christmas gifts to ourselves in December 2005. There is a bit of a story behind this duo.
So, the Christmas story … The Mat-Su Shelter had way too many cats and kittens in December, 2005 and Damascus, at 4 1/2 months old and just a “plain gray tabby” was slated to end her stay there if she wasn’t adopted by Christmas. 😦 They needed the space and no one seemed interested in her – there were plenty of younger and cuter kittens. I couldn’t bear it, so put a hold on her (with a deposit), put a surprise gift bag with photo, kitty toys – and a “Pick up your gift at the Mat-Su Shelter” note under the Christmas tree “from Santa”. Jerry was always a sucker for an underdog. Problem solved.
The following day, when we arrived at the shelter to pick up our tabby girl, I left Jer to get acquainted and wandered around the many cages of homeless cats. Boy, I should’ve known better! I still remember reaching down to a lower cage to pet a cute calico (I’ve always been partial to calicos and don’t quite understand why one has never managed to make it into my home), when I felt something brushing my hair. I jumped back just in time to see a pair of furry orange paws reaching out through the bars of the cage above me. The bright orange kitten the paws belonged to was laying flat on its side, face pressed against the bars, golden eyes gleaming with mischief and front legs stretched as far out as possible, trying to reach out to touch me. The tag said SHE was four months old – the same age as our tabby. Sigh. Yep, we came home with both of them!
Were we ever surprised a few days after Christmas when we took our two new kittens in for a “well-kitten” vet check. Although Mokume was a little bit bigger than Damascus, we discovered two important things; she was actually a HE, and he was no where’s near four months old. Large though he was, the vet told us he was closer to 9-10 weeks old rather than 4 months! He still had all of his milk teeth! We probably should’ve guessed from the huge paws and honestly even the orange coat. Although not all; the vast majority of orange cats are male. Oh well … Merry Christmas to us!
Out in the barn, chocolate barn cat, Snicker-Doodle, kept the Christmas spirit alive for 15 years with her regular gifts of mice (and the occasional bird, although I tried to discourage that particular activity). Christmas morning in the barn with Snicker, the goats and livestock guardian dogs, Buran, Libby and then Journey, was always magical. Special treats were offered and accepted, extra time was spent enjoying the quiet of a dark December morning with the contented sound of livestock around you, munching fresh hay and nickering quietly to each other in the chilly pre-dawn air.
Besides, what is more appropriate on Christmas morning than being in a barn? Oh, I know – it’s not for everyone. I loved more than 25 years of Christmas mornings with my barn animals. I miss those quiet, peaceful Christmas mornings, The last sheep and goats left our farm in the summer of 2016. This will be our 4th Christmas with an empty barn. Still, they are wonderful memories and I will always hold them close to my heart.
OK, let’s face it, when your grandchildren (and great-grandchildren) live too far away to spend Christmas with – you end up with a lot of pictures of your [also] beloved dogs. These photos (below) span the years between 1999 and 2012. If I were to include ALL the photos of dogs that I’ve taken at Christmastime over the years, I would have to write a book. As it is – I have way too many pictures of my dogs. This is a little embarrassing! 😉
2012 was also the year we added [then] 10-month-old Baxter to the family. This previously unwanted Dachshund was pretty much an early Christmas gift to myself. He may have been a rescue on his 3rd home due to (IMO) poor puppy raising by his previous owner(s), but this glossy little black and tan boy was the apple in his new Mama’s eye – and with a lot of time and effort, he overcame his early disadvantages and proved to be everything I hoped he would be – and more.
Our most recent canine addition to the family probably needs no introduction. I ASKED for her to be my Christmas present in 2017. She hadn’t even been conceived yet, but I was on the breeder’s list and was just waiting for the right litter to come along. It might have been soon, or it might well have been several years – I had a LOT of specific traits I was looking for in my next Dachshund puppy and good breeders won’t sell just any puppy to just anyone. When she emailed me in late January of 2018 and said she had an upcoming litter that MIGHT have what I was looking for – I was beyond excited! She was a late Christmas gift, to be sure, but she was sure worth waiting for. Goodwood Help Me Rhonda B Good (aka “Ronni”) … the gift that keeps on giving!
So, that is my Christmas memory album for now. Good memories, each and every one. Christmas remains a challenge for me. But if I keep these happy Christmas memories front and center, and continue to work on my regularly thwarted plans to spend Christmas with my actual grandkids and great grandkids instead of my DOGS … who knows. Maybe next year, I’ll have some NEW Christmas memory photos to share.
In the meantime, to generate some much needed Christmas cheer, please feel free to share some of your favorite Christmas memories and stories with me in the Comments below. If you are enjoying my blog, feel free to share it with your friends. Hoping for happy holidays!