This is our first Christmas as grandparents! Having a little one around brings back lots of memories from when our kids were young. Last night, as I was sewing the baby’s name on a Christmas stocking, my mind drifted back to one of his daddy’s early holiday seasons. The only thing our nearly three-year-old son asked Santa for that year was the Disney movie “101 Dalmatians”.
Back then, Disney would bring certain movies “out of the vault” for a limited time. You’d only find it on store shelves during those windows. Little Josh’s timing was off and the Dalmatians movie wasn’t currently available, so Santa was having a tough time finding that movie for him. As the elf assigned to help Santa find that perfect gift for our son’s third Christmas, I refused to give up.
Help arrived from an unexpected source that year. My youngest brother had moved to Ohio for work and he was dating someone we hadn’t met yet. As luck would have it, the young woman collected Disney movies. Not only did she have an impressive collection, she generously offered to help Santa out so he wouldn’t disappoint Joshua.
Now, nearly any movie you want to watch is available with the click of a few buttons—and maybe a few dollars—to stream directly into your living room. But this was long before streaming. This desperate elf / momma found her brother’s friend’s offer of a movie from her personal collection to be very generous indeed.
I still remember Joshua standing in front of my parent’s picture window, his little feet balancing on the heat register while he gripped the narrow trim, his eyes searching the sky for any sign of Santa Claus.
Joshua thought he heard a sound on the roof, and when the knock at the door came, his excitement edged toward terror as the big guy himself strolled into Grandma and Grandpa’s house. It helped that Santa brought the movie he’d asked for, but only a little.
My brother’s new girlfriend had hand delivered her movie to Santa Claus before he swung by the house to say hello to Joshua, and she’s been back with us for the holidays almost every December in the twenty-six years since that first Christmas.
Her willingness to help us out was an excellent sign, and she’s been an amazing sister-in-law and aunt ever since. Oh… and an awesome wife to my brother, too!
Thank you, Joey, for making a little boy’s Santa wish come true.
Love, Santa’s elf / aka Joshua’s mom
Did you go through a scrapbooking phase like I did? In the mid-nineties, when we were having our first of three kids, I stocked up on all the supplies and spent fun weekends with girlfriends, working on our books and enjoying the winter days at a lodge in Minnesota.
But I think I got one thing wrong. Like most new moms, I tried to do too much.
The first book I made for our oldest is so thick the binders can hardly hold it together, and it only captured his first year! Over the next few years, I continued building these keepsake books, and admittedly they got a little smaller each time, but my drive to “do it all” led to burnout. I’ve done little scrapbooking since.
My mom didn’t normally scrapbook, however, she spent countless nights leading up to Christmas 2000, creating three books: one for me and one for each of my two brothers. My book is thick, but she captured highlights from the first 34 years of my life on those pages. As a bonus, the first few pages are all about our great-grandparents, grandparents, and other relatives that are now long gone. She included photographs I’d never seen before.
Mom took the time to handwrite so many important snippets of our history on those pages. Her own handwriting on every page makes this book even more priceless to me.
Here is a picture of part of one page in the book she created for me. The one of a little girl in the lap of a woman is actually me at two years old and my Great Aunt Mary. I included a photocopy of this picture on the Author Bio page of my holiday novel, "Capturing Wishes". The next page in my scrapbook included a quick summary of what early Christmases looked like for Mom (Linda) as a child. She grew up with three sisters and her mother was Onie Johnson (sister to Aunt Mary Nierling):
“The Johnsons spent every Christmas with the Nierlings. They would have tuna hotdish on Christmas Eve at home, then go to Aunt Mary’s. Each of the kids would have their own corner where Santa would leave their gift. After opening all the gifts, everyone would go to Midnight Mass, then back to Aunt Mary’s for a huge breakfast. On Christmas morning, Onie would shorten new Christmas dresses for all four girls. Linda’s most memorable gift was a Toni Doll and lots of clothes made by Onie, who had stayed up night after night—sewing after all were in bed. We would join all our cousins at Aunt Mary’s for a big turkey dinner and play with all our new games!”
This brief paragraph conjures up so many fun, vivid images in my mind. I can just picture my dear grandmother, hunched over an old Singer sewing machine, working on doll clothes and new dresses for her four young daughters. I spent time at Aunt Mary’s house when I was young, and I wonder which corner was assigned to my mom.
Revisiting my scrapbook this morning has inspired me to, maybe, pull out my old “work in process” books for our three kids during the new year. I’d be more selective in the pictures I include, and spend more time on the “stories” behind the images, including names, so when someone runs across those pictures in the years to come, they won’t just be looking at nameless faces.
These days, we take countless snapshots with the phones that are almost constantly in our hands. But how many of those do we bother to convert from a digital image, so easily lost, into something more tangible that could tell our stories to future generations?
Thank you, Mom, for taking so much time during those fall and winter evenings, twenty-two years ago, to record our stories. It is a gift I’ll treasure forever.
Kimberly Diede Author
Hello everyone and welcome to my blog! My name is Kimberly Diede and I'm a fiction author and family girl. When time permits, I am happiest with a great cup of coffee in one hand and a book in the other. I love to alternate between reading and writing. Winters here can be long, dark and cold. Summers are unpredictable, lovely and always too short. Every season of the year, as in every season of life, is a gift. Let's celebrate it together!