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Saturday, December 06, 2014



We've had quite a wintery day.  The forecast was for snow changing to rain or freezing rain, but at least in our area that didn't happen.  We did get a fair share of wet, slippery snow, however, and that caused havoc on the roads.  Cars and trucks were slipping off ramps and into ditches, trucks were stuck on hills.  There were a few serious accidents, but most were just fender-benders and snowbank saves. When I measured the new snow this morning at 9 a.m., we had 2.3 inches, but we gained at least another couple  inches during the day - probably more, as it has snowed pretty steadily.  It has stopped now and the temperature is 26 degrees.

When we were shopping this week, I bought some tangerines.  I like tangerines any time of the year, but at Christmas they are very special.  I don't know if I'm recalling one particular Christmas or if there were more, but I have a clear memory of that sweet little fruit being handed out to everyone at school.  It was when I was at the one-room school on Cabot Plain (see picture), but I have no idea how we came to have them or who might have been responsible.  We sometimes had ribbon candy and candy canes in little boxes on the tree, or paper cones filled with candy and nuts hung on the tree.  I mostly remember the smell of tangerines.  Tangerines and Christmas just seem to go together for me. 

We always had a Christmas tree in the school.  One of the families would give permission for some of the older boys to cut a tree in a nearby pasture, and a week or so before our Christmas pageant, usually on a Friday afternoon, they'd get it and bring it in while the rest of us made decorations.  We'd cut and paste colored paper to make chains and cut snowflakes from folded paper, and everyone got to put their creations on the tree as soon as the boys got the stand nailed in place and had the tree securely tied at one corner of the stage.  This is a snapshot the family of Miss Woodcock, one of my teachers, sent to me.  Unfortunately it's not very clear, but it's just as I remember Christmas at the Plains School.  You can see the stage in the background and the teacher's desk in front.

We all enjoyed the Christmas stories the teacher or sometimes some of the older students would read to us, and we were enthusiastic about learning the carols and the "pieces" we recited at our Christmas pageant on the last afternoon of school before our two-week vacation.  Parents and baby brothers and sisters would always come to the program.

Most of the children brought small gifts for the teacher, and she always gave each of us a little gift, too.  Each of us would print our name on a little slip of paper and put them all together in a big bowl and the teacher would go down each aisle letting us select a name from the bowl.  We weren't supposed to switch with someone if we didn't like the name we got, but I'm pretty sure that happened sometimes.  I only remember one gift I got in all those years.  A boy got my name and gave me a box of tissues.  That might seem like a very odd gift, but back then we used handkerchiefs, not paper tissues, so they were quite a luxury.  However, these had an added component - they were specially scented with some sort of camphor that immediately offended my per-adolescent nose, and I'm afraid I didn't cover my disappointment very well.  I remember how hurt my friend was that I didn't like his gift. I tried to explain away my thoughtlessness, assuring him I really DID like the gift, I was just surprised, but I don't think he bought it.  He was kind enough to never mention the incident again, nor did I.  Those tissues were pretty awful, though.

Of course, the holidays always manage to rack up a few disappointments for most folks.  Expectations are high and often not met.  It doesn't matter if you're the giver or the receiver, things don't always go the way we'd like.  However, it helps to remember that it's only a small portion of the year and even though things don't go as well as planned, the New Year is coming right up and we all have a chance to start anew.  Just don't make any unreasonable resolutions.  You won't keep them and there's that disappointment factor all over again!  It's a bah-humbug moment.

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