Debbie and brother John, December 1968My mom, Grandma Ellen, Grandma Mila, and my Great Aunt Elsie all baked and baked and I ate and ate, loving every single baked good with the exception of fruit cake and anything with raisins. Yuck! I loved the frosted sugar cookies in the shapes of Christmas things the best! My mom, being of Norwegian descent, made these amazing Scandinavian, deep fried confections called Rosettes. They were fairly fragile and she would let me eat any that broke. I also adored Spritz cookies. They were so buttery and rich and fun to squeeze through the special little cookie press that formed their flower and star-like shapes. My Grandma Mila lived just up the street a couple of blocks and she invited my brother and me over to decorate cookies with her. I still remember it like it was yesterday. She had a giant, round, glass biscuit jar that she filled to the top with cookies. She laid out bowls of icing and all those wonderful little sprinkles, red hots, and silver balls. I was even allowed to play with her special, breakable doll that Grandpa had given her for a wedding present.
Debbie and John baking cookies
at Grandma's the following year, 1969
at Grandma's the following year, 1969
Driving to the tree lot to pick our Christmas tree was an adventure in the snow and I took the choosing of it seriously. Oh, the memory of being warm and cozy; all bundled up, snuggled in the back seat of our gold station wagon with my brother and hearing the click, click of the windshield wipers as we made our way to the tree lot. I love remembering that time. Dad always let us have the final say and of course, we chose the best tree they had! Decorating the tree was a fun, cozy family time with Christmas carols playing on the record player. Each ornament was special and already familiar to me from the past couple of years. I adored the stories and memories associated with all of them.
It was the winter of 1968, a winter that went down in history (until four winters ago) as the most snow that Spokane, Washington had ever seen. On this particular Christmas, I believed with all my heart that Santa was coming to leave presents under the tree for me and my brother, John. I had watched Rudolf the Red Nosed Reindeer, and was completely confident that Santa would make it through the storm with Rudolf leading his team of reindeer. I went to bed on that stormy Christmas Eve bubbling with excitement. I could not sleep, as I lay there in my little upstairs bedroom with snow falling outside my window. There was a beautiful, colorful glow from the Christmas lights around my window. It was magical. As I finally drifted off to sleep... I heard it! I know I did! It was Santa! I could hear the jingling of his sleigh bells! It was loud and magical and wonderful and I believed...
Everything on the list! Roller skates!
And see the pink tub in the background?
That was Tubsy's bathtub.
Debbie and her beautiful mom
Brother John was thrilled with his Fisher Price Barn.
Look at the house in the background.
The poodle was Debbie's first dog. Her name was Shelley!
The sound was oh…so… familiar. Ah ha! Mystery finally solved!
It's okay, I still believe...
And yes, Santa came through for me. I snuck downstairs too early and mom and dad told me to go back to bed. It wasn't time. I couldn't resist that closed, swinging door. I thought if I just bumped it a little, I just might happen to see something. Wow! The room had been magically transformed. There were stacks of presents, stockings overflowing, and in the middle of it all sat a smiling doll in a pink bathtub!
I recently shared this special Christmas memory on Mermaids of the Lake, the online women's magazine that I publish with with my BFF, Shelley Hepler.