Addy Degraaf, 100 Mile Elementary: “I would like to live in a Gingerbread House.”

Addy Degraaf, 100 Mile Elementary: “I would like to live in a Gingerbread House.”

Christmas at Roe Lake

A submission to the Free Press Christmas Writing Contest

By Ruth Peterson

Christmas Story Contest winner

I grew up in a large house on a steep hill overlooking a huge lake. In truth, it was a small house on a little knoll overlooking a big puddle. Everything was larger than life as a child in the 60s. So, too, was Christmas.

Our stockings were my dad’s big old wool socks. Every year they held the same treasures; walnuts in the bottom, oranges in the middle and gifts on top. It never got old. I would sit staring at that big, overstuffed sock hoping the day would never end.

Our gifts likely seemed sparse by today’s standards but I have no recollection of ever feeling deprived. One year I got an Easy Bake Oven and I spent an entire year baking cakes under a lightbulb. I was the youngest of five children, so by then, my mom had decided that eating cake all day was an acceptable form of babysitting. To this day, I’ve never received a gift more treasured than that little oven.

I can’t quite put my finger on why some old wool socks and a few scattered gifts would be so paramount in my life. I think perhaps it’s the simplicity of Christmas back in the day. And so, some 60 years later, I desperately try to recreate it. I have an outdoor Nativity scene nestled in a makeshift manger. I still hang the same fragile glass bulbs on our little tree. I try to make a few meals for friends and family to lighten the load in their busy lives. I try to give the little ones more of my time.

If my mom was run haggard in those days, I had no clue. She had an enviable way of filling the room with laughter. So, when the season gets a little chaotic, I slip outside and spend a moment alone to reflect on that. I might even have a little chat with Mary and Joseph. It took many years to realize how perfect an imperfect Christmas is. But if I close my eyes, I can still see our quaint little Christmas in the 60s. I can picture my mom and dad and my brothers and sister. I wish now that I’d sat and looked a little longer.

Before long, you blink and it’s all gone, just like the melting snow. On this side of the world or the other, time marches on. So I try my utmost best to make these new memories count. I decorate less, visit more, and love my friends and family. The perfect turkey can wait until another day.


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