This weekend dumped a foot of snow on us (and on the Arizona football team that tried to beat the Patriots in weather they weren't used to!) and this morning sunlight shining on  the icicles reminds me of the crystal chandelier that hung over our dining room table when I was growing up.

Alf in snow Snow yard
so winter is really here and I'm sure my son and his two boys will be out on the slopes with their skiis and snowboards before long.  First, though, they will be with me for a couple of days at Christmas, as will my San Francisco daughter, flying in on 12/26.

Christmas was magical for me as a child, and I'm sure most people my age remember it the same way. But it was never lavish or extravagant.  I always received a book or two, as gifts---when I was quite young, there was always a Marguerite deAngeli book---my two favorites were "Thee, Hannah!" and "Henner's Lydia"---both of them set in Pennsylvania, where I lived.

When I was eleven, we left the United States to live in Japan for a few years, and my mother donated all of our books to the public library. She meant well.  But in later years I so often mourned their loss.  Then, a librarian who heard me speak of the de Angeli books when I was at a conference in Mississippi sent me ALL of them--because they were being dropped from her library's collection.  What a wonderful gift!

They still held---and hold---the same magic for me that they did when I was a child.  But none at all for my grandchildren....or for the patrons of that library.   Times change.

There would also, usually, be a new doll. I was the kind of little girl who loved dolls. And my mother would have sewn and knitted a set of clothes for the new doll.

I remember a pair of what we called bunny-fur mittens.

And when I was 10 and outgrowing dolls, a set of oil paints---an amazingly exciting gift for a child who loved art projects.

And oh my's a memory flooding back...of another book, from a great aunt who knew my love of books and also my love of art: a biography of the 19th century children's book illustrator Kate Greenaway.  I have no memory of the title of that book but I can see the illustrations as clearly as if I were lingering over the pages once again as I did when I was 10.

MOTHER!  (megaphone aimed at Afterlife):Don't tell me you gave THAT book to the library, too!  Guess so.  It disappears from my memory after we moved to Tokyo, and does not reappear when we returned the states---by then I was 14 and my interests had shifted---but still!  I wish she had stored all those books away, maybe in my grandparents' attic.

So that was Christmas for us. A decorated tree.  Walk to the Presbyterian Church.  Gifts: a few books, maybe some clothes (boring), a doll or some art supplies. Toy trucks for my little brother, Jonny. Dinner with grandparents and cousins.

It was cold and snowy in Pennsylvania, of course. My sister (3 years older) and I hated wearing what we called "leggings" and went bare-legged when we could get away with it, but the rubber boots we wore over our shoes made red chapped marks on the backs of our legs. (No tights, then. I wonder when tights were invented).

Soemthing that we did NOT experience back then was phone solicitations!  I've just hung up from yet one more. Sigh.