We don't need to be reminded that Christmas is fast approaching. With this season go all the activities and gatherings that are tradition in our families. It is a season of pleasant times for most of us. At the same time, we need to be aware of those around us who may not have as much as we do or have lost loved ones, experiences that can dampen the Christmas spirit.
For many of us, this can also be a time of remembering. Thinking back to those days when we were growing up and our experiences from our youth. As many years have gone by for me, some of my memories of growing up in North Bloomfield in northern Trumbull County have become a bit dim. Yet there are many that still stand out.
In our family, there were four of us boys, all fairly close together in age. Our sister came along about five years later.
Since times were hard during my youth, new clothes were a luxury. With two older brothers, "hand-me-downs" were what I had to wear - if they hadn't worn them out. Christmas, however, would often bring some new clothes, and that was a treat.
One of the kinds of clothing I remember, and so do many of you, were knickers, or more officially, knickerbockers. They were baggy trousers that gathered just below the knees. I think I wore them for a few years until I was able to graduate to long pants. Then I knew I was really growing up. Today you may see some golfers wearing kickers on the golf course.
When it came to everyday or work clothes, we wore bib overalls. Here again, it was a treat when we were allowed to have blue jeans that had become more popular. We often wore them to school. So like today, styles do change, and we liked to keep up with the times.
We didn't have the money to buy a nice Christmas tree, but Dad had friends that let us go out in their woods and cut one. No, they weren't the beautifully trimmed and shaped trees you can buy today. Branches were usually spaced far apart and of different lengths. But for us, it was still one of the best trees in the neighborhood.
We had few lights to put on our tree, but they were still bright and enjoyable. They weren't like the ones you buy today. If one bulb went out, the whole string went dark. Then we had to check every bulb until we found the bad one. It was a good thing we didn't have a lot of lights.
As we all know, December is the month when winter usually sets in. We can have mild weather with little snow or very cold with piles of snow. We lived about six-tenths of a mile from school, so we walked most days. On rare, bitter cold days, Dad might get the car out and take us, but the weather had to be very bad.
Our school did not have a cafeteria. Most students carried their lunch. We would usually walk home for ours unless the weather was so bad it was best to carry a "packed" lunch.
Dad believed that idle hands would lead to mischief. So he always found plenty to keep us busy. As we were growing up, we had to keep the coal buckets or the wood box full. We burned both of these fuels in a big heating stove in the middle of the living room. It kept the whole house warm with the help of Mom's kitchen stove, except for our bedrooms. They were cold.
Helping Dad buzz wood was not one of my favorite chores. I didn't like the angry whine of the buzz saw nor see Dad work so close to it to cut off chunks of wood on the saw table. Then the wood had to be carried to the house and some of it split to size for Mom's kitchen stove.
I look back with fond memories even though life in many ways was not always easy. Whatever you memories are, I hope they are pleasant ones. Have a very merry Christmas!
Parker is an independent writer for the Tribune.