Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Christmas Memories at the Maze's

I've been wanting to write this post for many years but never took the time to sit down and record everything at once.  So, today... this first snow day of the season seemed the perfect opportunity to sit and write down some of my favorite childhood memories at Christmas time.

Christmas is my favorite time of year!  Time out of school provides the time to build family traditions and celebrate with the people you love most.  And, as I think back over my childhood, I remember many happy memories, traditions, and fun times!

I'll start by comparing the two sides of my family in separate posts...my mom's family Christmas with Grandma Sherrill and my dad's family Christmas at Granny Maze's house.  These were 2 distinctly different Christmas celebrations, but both so fun and wonderful!  I'll have to say one regret I have is not making copies of christmas pictures before I scrapbooked them back when scrapbooking was all the rage!  I took all of our old christmas pictures and organized them by year and put them into one big Christmas scrapbook album which is great but now the pictures are cut and glued inside an album....not so great to display when you want to put a vintage picture up for a while.  But oh well!  What I've done for the sake of these posts is to snap a picture of my pictures in the album...so these are not the best quality but you get the idea!
Eddie's first Christmas...a sly smile, don't you think? a young and beautiful granny maze in the background.

Now, I was so fortunate to grow up right in the middle of both of my grandparents...our house was literally flanked on each side with my grandparents as our neighbors.  What a lucky kid I was!  I saw both sets of my grandparents very often.  And on Christmas we had yearly traditions that we held to every year.  Christmas Eve was spent with my dad's family and Christmas morning was spent with my mom's family.

again...Eddie's first Christmas.  Granny and Papa's present to him was this great airplane!  

Let's start by breaking down Christmas Eve at the Maze's...oh how I loved going over to PaPa and Granny Maze's house for Christmas Eve!  This side of my family was smaller b/c my dad only has one sister.  So, It was my grandparents, our family, and my aunt Faye and her family.  There were 4 of us grandchildren on that side of the family...from oldest to youngest-Eddie (the first long awaited grandson, ha!), Elonia, me, and Tiffany who was the youngest with 6 years separating us.

love this...papa gave eddie a tractor!

I should also mention that for many years we also had another family join us...the McClains.  This was a family with 2 older boys, Stacy and Darren and my Granny kept them both when they were very young so they were like family to us.  You could say they were my grandparents first grandchildren b/c they spent a lot of time with granny, papa, and my aunt Faye too.  So in many pictures they are included.

finally i came along...christmas 1975
Granny and Papa's gift...a classic red wagon!

Sometime after Thanksgiving Papa would cut down a live christmas tree in the woods around their house and bring it into the living room to set up.  It was always a little lopsided and maybe fatter on one side than the other, but it was always so pretty.  For many years Elonia and I would help granny get out the decorations and decorate the tree.  (I don't think Eddie joined in this? I can't remember)  But, granny had the oldest most pretty ornaments.  Some were keepsakes from our family drugstore, some were gifts, and some were bought from Sears back in the day.  At the end she would delicately hand place silver tinsel all over the tree and when she was done it looked great!

probably the cutest christmas ever!  this is eddie and elonia dressed in their new cowboy/cowgirl outfits!

Eddie, Elonia, and I were very close all through our childhood.  With only about 1 year separating each of us in age, we were the 3 musketeers.  Elonia and I played together a lot during our childhood and at Christmas time we would spend hours on the phone to each other trying to give clues as to what each of us (our moms) had gotten the other. On Christmas Eve we bought gifts for each other and Granny and Pa Pa bought for all of us as well.  The excitement over the presents we would receive was palpable as we walked into Granny's house!  We would be so excited to open presents we couldn't stand it!

christmas 1976, check out eddie's shirt and elonia's plaid pants!  nice!
here i am holding a golden book in one hand and a doll in the other!

But, Granny, being the organized and always prepared person she is had an order to how things would go each year on Christmas Eve...and it NEVER changed!   So...each Christmas Eve at 6pm sharp we would {literally} walk over to Granny's house with gifts in hand.  There dogs (always 2 german shepherds) would greet us (read: bark and growl loudly) at the back door and we would go inside to be greeted by another inside dog (Echo, Missy, or Kissy Fur) and then PaPa would greet us and Granny would be hard at work in the kitchen getting things finished.  Papa would have a warm fire on that we would swear he would periodically turn up through out the night so it would get so hot we would not outstay our welcome! ha! They would have classic Christmas music playing on their old antique record player/stereo that she still has and still has the records!

christmas 1977...see the watches we are all wearing?  gifts from granny!
this is echo (the poodle) in the picture with us
how sweet are we all dressed for christmas!

The menu at Granny Maze's house was mostly the same with these classics...sweet & sour meatballs, red & green jello salad, and my favorite orange coffee cake.  One year she made a wonderful 7 layer taco dip and there would be various desserts and other dishes.  Everything at Granny Maze's house was always ready on time.  It all looked like it could have been on a magazine cover.  It was all hot and ready at the same time.  And, to top it off she did it all (with the help of Papa)...but nobody ever brought food to granny's house because nobody would eat it if granny didn't make it! ha!  I don't know how she did it, except the fact that she is an exceptional cook, housekeeper, and my papa and her worked together better than any married couple I've ever known.  So he would do his part to help her pull it all off.  

Granny knew how to do just the right amount and never go overboard with things like decorations.  She had a tree, she hung stockings, and maybe put out a few other things.  But, overall that was it.  So, she didn't have to spend days and days sorting through strands of lights or unpacking boxes of christmas decorations.  It was always just the perfect amount, she and papa were never the kind to indulge in too much of anything.  I always admired that about them.  She didn't rush out to after christmas clearance sales or black friday sales to buy more stuff each year.  She simply was content to have what she had and want no more!  

look at all of that glorious food!

We would eat first and all of us kids would ask the adults about 100 times when we could start opening presents.  We would be so excited!  Finally we would gather in the Living Room and start exchanging gifts.  Granny always got the grandkids similar items...me and Elonia would mostly get the same things.  Usually 1 present was a clothing item (for us it was usually a matching Christmas dress or sweater) and 1 toy or fun item.  Granny would get mom/dad and faye/ray one gift for their family also.  It was usually something really nice like a set of Crystal glasses, China, nice casserole dishes, things that last forever that we still use.  She put such thought into her gifts for everyone and we all loved it.  We would always get Papa and Granny pajamas, a nightgown, house shoes, perfume, or something we thought they would need.  The truth is we never knew what they needed and they probably have all of those gifts in the bedroom closet to this day unused!

how cute are we??

About the time we finished up with gifts the women would all start cleaning up, washing dishes, etc. and the kids would move into the den to watch the news/weather report for the "santa spotting".  As soon as we would see him on tv we would be ready to go home and jump in bed b/c we would be so excited for Christmas morning.

the 3 musketeers above
and my first doll (a gift from granny) below

By the time we left, granny's house was all put back in place, table cleared, dishes washed, and all the bows and gift wrap picked up.  Christmas at the Maze's was simply idyllic.  I loved it and I loved the people who gathered together in that house!

papa loved guns!!
eddie giving granny a family picture

The tradition with granny and papa would continue on christmas morning when they would come by our house to visit and see what santa had left us!  We would be so excited to show them.  And then they would go to my aunt Faye's house to see what santa had left Elonia and Tiffany.  Sometimes I would go with them to their house anxiously wondering what fun things my cousin may have got from Santa.

and here's baby tiffany!  i didn't want to leave her out:)

When I think back to my Granny and Papa Maze I think they were the most perfect grandparents I could ever have!  They were always prepared and ready for anything that came their way.  They were loving towards each other and had a great marriage.  My papa was fun loving and cute as a button!  My granny kept him in line and kept these family traditions in tact for so many years!

 this was probably my favorite doll ever...baby crissy from sears!
you could pull a string and make her hair long or short
she was practically life size
and elonia and i loved her!  we took her to the pool in the summer time and everywhere else we ventured.

Sadly, these Christmas gatherings ended the year my dad died in 1992.  He died on December 4th of that year (he was 45 years old) and at that point my aunt Faye lived in Bowling Green, KY and so we changed tradition and went to her house.  It was just too hard to gather together in the same place we had been for so long without dad there.  It was good to be somewhere different.  His death was the first of many tragic loses for Granny Maze and our family.  And, with it being near Christmas time I think that changed her.  As a mom, I don't know how it couldn't change you.  At the same time my Papa had just been diagnosed with cancer, but he lived for many years after his initial diagnosis.  After that I think we may have started to have Granny over at our house and then Faye's family moved closer in so we had Christmas there some too.  In 1999 my Papa died and then more recently in 2007 my cousin Elonia died.  That was by far the hardest loss our family has experienced, losing someone so precious at age 33.

"the older year"
don't you just love these pics of the awkwardness of preteen years???

 look at tiffany in the picture above...sticking her tongue out! ha!
i got my love of pink from granny maze...she has pink carpet, pink chairs, and pink drapes!  we love pink!

i had to include this picture of my great grandparents (granny maze's parents)
they were so sweet and both lived a long, healthy life!
they didn't come down often (lived in estell springs) but apparently they were at granny's house this year.(looks like 1975)

I think since our family has lost so many wonderful loved ones, that is why I hold onto Christmas memories and pictures so closely.  Although Christmas will never be what it was in my childhood I hope that my children and Eddie's children will have similar fun memories with their cousins at the holidays and all year long.  I love to see the anticipation in their faces and the excitement of getting together to play reminds me of what we experienced as a family.

next up...the Sherrill Christmas!

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