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A Memory of Christmas Past

December 25, 1987

Christmas means togetherness and love. When I was a young girl in a family of eight, we prepared for the holy season in a simple manner, not for the presents we received but the deep meaning of Christ's birth.

For weeks before, we looked around the farm for the holly bush with the most berries, with which we enjoyed decorating windows and doors. Dad would take us to the wooded area to select a block of wood large enough to keep burning for the 12 days of Christmas.

Christmas Eve, Mother and Dad would take the pony and trap and drive to the nearest shop, which was seven miles, to get the surprise goodies. Oranges, apples, raisin loaf, jams and jellies. We children listened and waited to help unpack the trap.

I was always selected to go to the fields to pick fresh turnips we used as candle-holders by scooping out the centers to hold large red candles, then decorate the turnips with red berries. Those candles would light up all the windows in the house and would burn for the 12 days of Christmas.

All the family would bundle up and walk to midnight Mass and meet the neighbors to walk home in the moonlight and invite the families in for teas, home-made currant loaves, punches and a little Irish. Christmas Day was the greatest, with roasted goose and turkeys, which we raised ourselves, and all our fresh vegetables and potatoes.

I miss the simplicity of Christmas.

MARY CHRISTINA McGOVERN

Camarillo

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