A column by Fran
Published in The Territorial Dispatch
December 20, 1999
Christmas is a great
time for remembering.
Christmas is a great
time for remembering all the fun things that happened
throughout the year as well as all Christmases past. And
this year there seems to be a push to remember, not only the
year that has gone by, but the century and even the
But, hey, the century
and millennium aren't over until we get through with the
year 2000 so we can stick to the subject of Christmas.
There'll be plenty of time to talk about ancient history
next year... in fact there's even an extra day next year
because it's Leap Year.
If you haven't driven
around in the evening and checked out the decorated houses
all over the area you are really missing something. It seems
that folks have gone all out decorating with lights this
Decorations have come
a long way since I was a youngster. My dad was an artist and
he made a Santa, sleigh and a reindeer (with a black nose...
this was pre-Rudolph) cut from sheets of wood and painted.
They always went up on the porch roof and were lit up by
In the windows we had
those electric candles that had six or eight on a base and
used those big sized Christmas lights. In those days they
weren't 'big sized' so much as the only size
That is all that was
put up early... the candles and life-sized cut-outs. When my
brother, sister and I went to bed Christmas Eve, after
coming home from church where Dad played Santa, for the
Sunday School party, the living-room was normal.
When we came down in
the morning Christmas had 'suddenly' arrived. A third of the
living room was covered with an eighteen inch high platform
with the Christmas tree in the middle and a Lionel train
running in a big oval around a village. The streets were
lined with lit up houses and a railroad station proclaimed
'Jimtown' (named for my brother) for the tiny passengers
arriving and departing by rail.
When we were younger
we were told that Santa brought the whole set-up. As we got
older we realized that our parents spent the whole night
putting it together so we could have a Merry Christmas.
I was reminded of this
years later when I was just finishing up wrapping gifts and
putting together toys 'from Santa'. Dawn, hushed by new
fallen snow, was breaking over Topeka. One of my youngsters
stopped by the living room on his way to the
"Mom!" he cried out.
"You promised you wouldn't get up and open gifts before we
A couple of years
later he brought a friend home after school and was showing
him around the house. It was just before Christmas and the
reason for the 'house tour' dawned on me when I heard him
say to his buddy "And now I'll show you my mother's closet!"
But that was all just
past mid-century and times have changed. Christmas light
bulbs are smaller, and they blink off and on in patterns, or
Christmas trees are
grown on farms and these days all are perfectly shaped. It's
no longer a challenge to buy a 'Charlie Brown' tree to take
home and make look beautiful despite a crooked trunk and one
And now there is
Christmas has come a
long way in the last century, let alone in a millennium. And
we still have a year to go. It's hard to imagine what else
can change... but something will.
Have a Happy Holiday
and remember... if someone gives you the fruit cake before
Christmas hurry up and mail it out to someone else. After
Christmas you have to keep it until next year. It's the
fruit cake rule!
-- Fran Crawford