Everybody has their own ideas about Christmas traditions. Take Esther in the picture for instance. What do you think of her tree? I wonder if she knows she got a fake Christmas tree shaped just like her. I know that’s not very nice to say…Sorry, but I don’t much like aluminum trees. At least she put different colored balls on it.
Actually, Esther is my best friend’s Grandma. Barbie, (my friend), helped Esther decorate the tree. I made the colorful ribbon chain hanging above the doorway between the dinning room and the living room. Notice how I used colorful ribbon to match the colors of the balls on the tree. It kind of brings it all together don’t you think?
Even though Esther doesn’t look very happy in the picture, she is really nice.. She is one of the best Grandma’s I have ever known, and I’ve known a few. On the day we decorated, Esther let us make taffy, which was really nice of her since it makes the hugest mess. You cook Karo syrup, vinegar, baking soda and water in a heavy pan on the stove. When it starts to bubble, you put just a little dab in a glass of cold water to see if it’s at what you call the “soft ball” stage. That part is nerve- wracking because you can ruin the whole batch if you don’t watch it close enough.
When it’s ready, you pour the hot mess onto a buttered cookie sheet, then comes another nerve- wracking part. You have to wait until it’s cool enough to handle, but not all the way cool or it will get too hard to pull. Even though we butter our hands, Barbie and I burned our fingers a little. Anyway, we picked up some of the mixture and pulled and pulled until it turned white, then we twisted it into a rope and laid it on wax paper. If you leave it alone for a while, it turns solid and you can cut it into bite size pieces with scissors.
That taffy is the best thing I have ever put in my mouth, and I’ve put a lot of things in my mouth. We wrapped a few candies in a square of Saran wrap and tied it with red and green ribbons. Barbie and I are going to give some to kids we like for Christmas presents. Esther says it means more if you make things with your own two hands, even if you burn them a little. I think she was really thankful that Barbie and I did all the pulling. Esther has gnarly arthritis. You can see winces on her face when her hands hurt bad. (That must be her hand in my picture. She helped me learn how to pull.)
Barbie has a Grandpa too. His name is Slim. I think he has a real name, but I don’t know what it is. Slim is only about half as big as Esther. I would say he’s in the shape of a harmonica, which he plays really fantastically. He knows all the songs he plays in his heart. Slim wears bib overalls and he carries that harmonica with him always. He puts it in his pocket next to his heart. Maybe that’s how his heart learns all those songs.
Slim doesn’t talk much. He says Esther is always putting words in his mouth anyway, so she just as well say what he means in the first place. She says you can’t talk with a harmonica in your mouth all the time. One of Slim’s front teeth is missing. I think that’s the real reason he doesn’t talk much. Before my front teeth grew in I couldn’t say my S’s right.
After Barbie and I helped clean up the candy mess, we did Esther a good turn. We carried all the dirty laundry down to the basement. It was a lot because she wanted to wash all the Christmas tablecloths and napkins. I decided in my mind if I was still there when it came time to iron, I was going to have to go home. She wouldn’t let us put things through the wringer on the washer for fear we’d get our fingers caught, and that would be the end of our taffy pulling days.
I like preparing for Christmas…at someone else’s house. Mom makes fudge every year, which I like. She also makes peanut brittle, which I don’t like. She doesn’t train me like Barbie’s Grandma trains her. Mom says I’m too annoying to teach to cook. I guess when I grow up and get married, and my husband wants to eat, I’ll have to tell him I can’t cook because I was too annoying as a child. Then I’ll ask him if he would like some taffy.
Mom says the days are getting shorter, because it gets dark so soon. I think just the opposite for the same reason. You can’t play outside after dark, so I have to stay inside for all those dark hours before bedtime. I’m not going to kid myself. December goes way too slow. When I tell Mom that, she says I shouldn’t wish my life away. I’m not. I just want Christmas to get here. I asked for a doll that I saw in the Alden’s Catalog who’s 2 feet tall. She has pigtails and her name is Paula. When Mom asked me where someone might find Paula, I couldn’t say the Alden’s Catalog, so I told her at the North Pole. I wasn’t sure what to say. Mom might have been trying to trick me and I didn’t want to take any chances. I decided to ask her if Santa Claus got ideas from the Alden’s Catalog. We’ll have to see if I did the right thing.
This is my Aunt Martha. She is sitting by our Christmas tree, which you can tell is aluminum. All the balls are blue. All 10 of them.
We have a fireplace, so if there is a Santa he can get into our house his normal way. He probably likes Barbie’s house better. She doesn’t have a fireplace, so her Grandpa found a pattern for a special key that will only work for Santa Claus. He made the key out of wood and painted it gold. On Christmas Eve, he hangs it on a nail beside the door. We never lock our door anyway, but if there is a Santa Claus, he probably won’t know that.
I know. I’ll add a P.S. to my Santa Claus letter. This will be the best letter I have ever written to him, and I’ve written a few.
I have to write a paper about what I did on Christmas vacation. I decided to write it before Christmas so I wouldn’t forget.
Thank you very much