A family tradition

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On Sunday afternoon, two days before Christmas, two daughters, one granddaughter, and I got together to bake Christmas cookies, a family tradition that for me goes w-a-a-a-y back to when I was a child. Many years ago (mid-20th century), Christmas cards, cookies, caroling for neighbors, and a candlelight worship service on Christmas Eve were traditional holiday events for our family.  Special cookies…huge tins filled with them, provided enough sweet treats for all to enjoy over the holiday visit. My sisters and I, along with our families, would drive back to our parents’ home in southeastern Pennsylvania. There we celebrated Christmas together, singing, worshiping, baking, sharing stories, and more. We were very blessed, and we knew it. It was part of the glue that held our family together, despite the many miles that separated us.

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My childhood home

If that sounds like I’m getting old, I’ll claim the years, and, along with the years, I’ll claim the many warm and wonderful memories…and give thanks for them. Bob and I still exchange holiday cards, attend candlelight service on Christmas Eve, and last week I joined members and friends of our church choir as we went caroling for guests at local nursing homes, giving each guest a teddy bear as evidence of the love we want them to feel.

 

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Choir & friends
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Cathy’s mom with her teddy bears

However, cookie tins filled with special cookies, most of them baked only at Christmas time, was our mother’s tradition, a tradition we had dropped from our busy schedules when our parents passed on, and the family home was sold. Now my sisters are gone and none of our  children live in southeastern Pennsylvania. I am left with the precious memories of those Christmas trips to southeastern Pennsylvania and a few niggling questions:

Why did we ever stop our Christmas baking? Overly diet conscious? Busy lives? Too much shopping and wrapping? Mixed up priorities?  Whatever were we thinking? A revival of the tins-full-of-cookies-tradition was long overdue! Two years ago, Becky and Alison decided to revive it, and this week we all had a wonderful time during our second annual cookie baking session, and, as a bonus, we each went home with a tin of cookies! Granddaughter Emmy was the force behind this year’s baking session, and her Aunt Becky provided the kitchen, as well as the two dogs who kept their eyes (and noses) on the proceedings. I had a great time taking photos. Take a look!

Do you have a special holiday-time tradition? One that is the glue that holds you and your family and friends together? If you do, please tell us about it in the comments, but if your special tradition needs a revival, I’m here to tell you that it’s never too late!

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!
~Trail Walker

Reconnecting with a friend

A note to my blog friends: I wrote this blog post especially for my friend Dollie. None of my regular readers know Dollie, but if you had a special connection with a friend at sometime in your life, a friend you haven’t seen for many years, my words in this post may resonate with you. If they trigger memories for you, as this experience has done for me, you may even find yourself creating blog posts based on those memories. If that happens, I wish you happy blogging!

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This was me, back in my high school days when I met Dollie.

Several weeks ago, a special message showed up in my email box. As I read it, my eyes got wider and my smile grew bigger. The message was from someone I have never met, but she introduced herself as Kim, and explained that she is the niece of one of my very good friends from high school, which was a long time ago…back when I was growing up in southeastern Pennsylvania.

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I think (but I’m not sure) that this was Kennard-Dale High School.

Our high school wasn’t large. As I remember it, there were only 61 members in our graduating class. Located in the country, surrounded by beautiful farms with rolling hills and lots and lots of cows (my father was in the dairy business), the school was new when we entered 10th grade. The students came from different elementary schools. Many of us only knew a few of our classmates at this new school. Fewer than a dozen had gone to grade school with me, so high school became a time for making new friends, which thankfully didn’t take long. That is when I first met Dollie, and we were good friends all through our three years at Kennard-Dale High School.

After high school,  I went off to Philadelphia for college. There, as these stories often go, I met someone special. When I graduated from Beaver College (now Arcadia University) in 1959, Bob and I were married. He started a career in sales, I taught school,  we raised three daughters, and I never returned, except for short visits, to my home town in southeastern Pennsylvania. As a result, I lost contact with my friends from Kennard-Dale.

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Bob with our daughters
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Me with our daughters

But home never stopped being important to me, and occasionally we still drive through that little town on the Maryland-Pennsylvania line, bringing flowers to the cemetery, located on top of the hill with a wonderful view of the valley and houses below. We drive down Main Street (There is only one main street. It really is a small town) to see what has changed. And of course we always drive from end to end on Chestnut Street, past the home where I grew up, which sadly has changed way too much. One of these years I expect the old homestead, built by my grandparents in 1907, will be gone. That will be a sad day for me.

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My parents are both gone now, and my sisters as well. My husband and I rarely make trips back to the corner of Pennsylvania that I still call home, but there is a very special corner of my heart where I keep my memories of that time and place. Was I glad to get an email from Dollie’s niece Kim? I was more than glad; I was deeply touched, delighted, and grateful. It means so much to me to reconnect with that time and place and with my good friend, Dollie.

Happy Birthday, Dollie. I hope you have a wonderful day, and I hope we can continue to keep in touch. As they say Best Friends Forever (BFF)!

Carolyn

A few more pictures

I love a parade!

THAT WAS THEN…

When I was growing up in the dairy farm country of southeastern Pennsylvania, the annual July Fourth parade was a huge event. Everyone would bring their lawn chairs or blankets and the entire community would gather along the route, visiting with neighbors as they waited for the parade marshall to arrive, signaling the beginning of the parade.

Children shouted back and forth, turned somersaults in the grass, and called to their friends across the street. Excitement was high.

After all, it was the 4th of July, Independence Day in the United States, and in rural Pennsylvania we celebrated the 4th in a BIG way. It didn’t matter that the parade wasn’t very long, that every fourth or fifth parade entry was a fire truck, a milk truck, or a Boy Scout troop marching down the street behind their leader. The parade was a huge event in our little country town, and after the parade we could all follow the marchers to the carnival grounds at the end of the parade route. There we could ride the merry-go-round and other rides, eat cotton candy, win prizes at the  penny arcade, and stay out until long after nightfall, when we would finally wend our way home through the darkened streets.

THIS IS NOW…

Living in suburban Cleveland, Ohio, I had often heard  of something called Parade the Circle. This annual event, now in its 26th year,  takes place in the University Circle area of Cleveland. The Plain Dealer newspaper described it as…an artful event of floats , musicians, stilt-walkers, dancers, parading artworks and more, featuring more than 1200 participants, including more than 80 groups and 44 local and international artists from across the U.S., Trinidad and Tobago, Puerto Rico, Brazil and beyond.  The newspaper headlined it as Showtime at the Circle, and what an amazing show it was and so much fun! My daughter, Alison, grandchildren Michael and Emmy, and I arrived at 10 am for the parade that was scheduled to step off at noon, and, like the families waiting for the parade in my childhood days, we passed the time chatting and being entertained by the little children playing along the curb.  Anticipation was high and everyone was in a celebratory mood. And then the parade began with a group of colorfully costumed “creatures” (pictured above) leading the way. And it truly was a grand show. The parade participants interacted with the crowd along the curb; small

No invitation needed for the little kids to jump in and be part of the parade.
No invitation needed for the little kids to run out and get involved.

children and some bigger ones, left their seats and ran out to become part of the parade, jumping rope, running under the parachute and “high-fiving” the costumed creatures passing in front of them.

The excitement continued for almost two hours, and when the last costumed character passed by, the crowd rose from the curb and fell into line behind the last marchers,  heading to their cars for the ride home. As we walked to our car, I said to my daughter, “That was a far cry from the July 4th parade in my hometown.” The excitement was equally high and celebratory at both events, and the families were just as excited, but there wasn’t a single fire engine or milk truck in sight in today’s parade. I didn’t see any scout troops either, but there were plenty of children and they were all having the time of their lives. “I’m coming back next year,” I said to Alison and she agreed.

Click a picture in this gallery to scroll through more of my many pictures of the parade. It wasn’t easy to capture the spirit of this event on my digital memory card, but I hope, by scrolling through these images, you can sense the spirit and enjoy the interaction between participants and watchers .


Thanks for joining me on this unusual photowalk. I hope you enjoyed the parade. If it reminded you of some special memories of your own, why don’t you share them in the comments or, better yet, blog about them. Making and preserving memories is an important part of blogging.

Carolyn aka Skip

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