Thursday, November 26, 2015

The Ceramic Thanksgiving Santa Claus

My family had a few Holiday traditions. The most delicious tradition was my grandmother's Christmas bread. The most fun tradition happened right after Thanksgiving dinner as dessert was being enjoyed. I don't know who started it or when. It was just something we did that became a tradition called Table Trees.

Preparing for Table Trees began Thanksgiving morning when sheets of paper were cut into strips. On each strip the name of a family member was written. While it differed who wrote the names on the strips, it most always was a younger member of the family doing it. After every family member's name was on a strip, the strips were folded a few times and placed inside the ceramic Thanksgiving Santa Claus which was then put some place secure until the dessert was being enjoyed. When I was little  it seemed as if the adults would never finish talking and eating so the ceramic Thanksgiving Santa Claus could be brought out and the fun could be underway.

Again it would be a younger member doing the honors. He or she would go around the table with the ceramic Thanksgiving Santa Claus, stopping just long enough so the person sitting there could reach into the ceramic Thanksgiving Santa Claus and pull out a strip. The name on the strip was the family member the person doing the choosing had to buy a small gift for to be opened after Christmas Dinner. The small gifts were known in the family as Table Tree Gifts. They'd be kept in a basket Christmas Day. As soon as Christmas dinner was done, the table tree gifts were passed around. It was always exciting. You knew all day long you had one more gift to open. Gifts were supposed to be kept at $5. or under but that never happened. Gifts bought were thought over and shopped for with extra care. After all, it would be the last gift opened on Christmas night. Sometimes certain names chosen weren't the most popular ones. Sometimes some switching among family members of strips with certain names was done on the side. One year my cousin got my older brother. Believe it or not I wanted his name. I wanted to buy him something I'd seen in Newberry's for his stamp collection as a Table Tree gift. My cousin switched and I totally surprised my brother!

When we were really young, one special aunt would take us all downtown shopping. We'd have lunch in a local eatery in the heart of that bustling area. At some point we'd stop at our uncle's shoe store to say Hi and take a break-but not for long. The quest for those Table Tree gifts was front and center. A few times it took more than one trip downtown to find the perfect gift.

I have that ceramic Thanksgiving Santa Claus sitting on a shelf in the kitchen. It isn't brought out on Thanksgiving Day anymore. Sometime traditions from a certain time belong kept in the heart as new ones begin. And that's just what has happened!

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