Christmas Eve 1970. The light is dimming and it is brisk outside, snow on the ground in Davenport, Iowa. It has been a year of big changes for the Moslander family. We’d left my childhood home where relatives lived on every block nearby and moved to a new city to start a church. Nothing like being the new kid and late to start the school year. Yes, big changes for us. In fact, we had gotten a TV in October so my dad could watch the World Series (and possibly to cover the sound of lonliness for our family until we could meet people). A 16″ black and white portable sits on a stereo rack.
As the daylight fades and turns blue then silver-gray, dusk pushing its’ way in, mom busies herself in the kitchen making Christmas Eve snacks.
Of all the Christmas Eves I have lived through (a lot by now), that one in 1970 somehow became the Christmas Eve by which all others, both before and after, would be judged.
We’d moved so far from family and friends and familiar places and things and I was struggling to adjust (and as a kid, these things are hard to express – so you just don’t), but on this night, as it fell, a familiar safeness and warmth settled in around me like a heavy old, rag quilt, the kind of quilt that would have built secret forts and been lots of fun but also wrapped you around in times of sickness or sorrow – you know – a quilt with which you had history. That is what settled in – that kind of peace and warmth and hope and all-is-right-with-the-world….
It was nothing fancy, this particular Christmas Eve. It was just us – my mom and dad and 4 younger siblings. But mom made snacks for dinner. There were the annual Bugles (you couldn’t just have those everyday, you know) and a wondrous delight called Pizza Spins (why-o-why can’t I get them today??), chips and dip and hot cocoa – the real kind, the kind that kept my mom stirring at the stove for at least 30 (to 100) minutes as she perfected – a little more whole milk, hmmm, some vanilla, more sugar now…Hershey’s cocoa powder being stirred and stirred into creamy, frothy submission. When, oh when would that cocoa be ready??? Then of course my mom always whipped up a big batch of her amazing popcorn.
Oh, I think there were sandwiches, too and candies and various Divinities (there is a reason no one makes these anymore) sent by my Great Aunt Jenny and my dad’s customers on the milk route (he was a bi-vacational pastor before that vogue termed was coined). But the hot cocoa and popcorn, the Bugles and Pizza Spins and chips and dip – these were what signaled that this was a special night.
And she served us as we settled in, cozy on the couch, tree lights twinkling away while tinsel fluttered at the slightest provocation, watching the Davy & Goliath Christmas Special. Then the Peanuts Christmas Special, and who knows what all else? We loved our TV watching after having gone without! Haha.
Yes, we were far from family and friends that Christmas, getting adjusted, the big move having changed everything about life as we had always known. But on that night, all was well. It was cozy and sweet and I am sitting here writing – so many years later, as I watch the daylight turn blue and ease into silver gray and I swear I can almost hear my mamala in the kitchen popping some corn and stirring away at that rich, hot cocoa. If I turn on the TV, the Davy & Goliath Christmas Special will be on, right?
It is funny, isn’t it, how one shade of light, or an ornament twinkling or a certain scent will trigger a gold-spun thread in our hearts to pull us back? My heart remembers…
Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good-night.
Guess what??? It just now started to snow…it’s Christmas Eve. It’s magic!