Speak Your Peace

December 20, 2018

All of my childhood Christmases were spent in Marion. In fact all of my Christmases have been touched by Marion. Although I missed it by just a few days, Christmas decorations were still atop the lamp posts and my parents tree still stood when I arrived in the Village.

Julie Traynor Postcards from the Pine Columnist

Julie Traynor Postcards from the Pine Columnist

Marion was and still is my home. She has always been a part of our family traditions. We enjoy a drive about the Village just before Christmas, or better yet, just at dusk on Christmas Eve. She is at her very best on that evening. All the colorful lights are lit. Christmas trees twinkle in many a window and a warm glow has settled upon town. Familiar street by familiar street we enjoy the glow, which is truly the best when dusted with snow. And then we head for home warmed, and often restored, by the contentment of our little village on this eve. Particularly at Christmastime the spirit of Peace and goodwill, of which Marion is always capable, does not fail.

Your holiday memories and traditions, just like mine, were programmed into our little brains the moment we first saw a lit tree and all the glittery trimmings. Ah! Our infant brains said, this is something special!! As humans our memories and traditions for this holiday, both good and bad, are learned very young. Unfortunately, so is the fact that the holidays will give you both in life.

One of my cherished Christmas memories is of how hard my parents worked to make me think that Santa had really visited our house. He came while we were on the other side of town enjoying our Berry family Christmas.

While my cousins and I were busy trying hard to see names on gift tags and scoping out the many stockings hung on Aunt Lola’s fireplace, Dad snuck away and drove across town to turn on strings of lights and place gifts under our Blevins Street tree. He returned just in time for the much anticipated cousins Christmas. It still remains a Christmas mystery as to where in our little house my mother hid the wrapped gifts, including a sled, where I did not find them.

I will always hold dear that Christmas Eve moment when we turned the corner onto Blevins Street and saw the colorful and glowing lights on our tree and at the front door. They were not on when we left for Aunt Lola’s. Someone had been in our house! My parents fanned that flame and suggested that it must have been Santa as there was no one else it could be. Dad had all the details and all the answers. That made it all logical to me. I fell for his story hard. Santa had indeed been there!

I hold this moment dear, in part because it represents that short time in which I really considered that perhaps there might just be a real flying, gift giving Santa Claus.

The Berry Clan had a joyous gathering that year. We did not know it but this was approaching the last of our great family Christmases in Marion, Michigan, for as our family grew our traditions changed.

Fortunately, many public traditions do not change. Marion Elementary still features a Christmas musical program featuring the musical talents of the band and each grade. I still remember the excitement of practicing for the magical Christmas Program night. I believe I never got past the status of bell ringer or noisemaker shaker, which was just as well.

I vividly recall the great trepidation in which I participated in both the Christmas and Easter programs at the Methodist Church. From the time that the dreaded recitation “piece” was handed out until it was time for me to come forward to recite “it” in front of a packed church, I lived with a little black cloud over my head. My grandmother, who had loved recitation in her school days, could not understand why I felt so.

 May we all know the great Joy of Christmas.

May we all know the great Joy of Christmas.

Grandma Berry once volunteered me into “recitation service” for a Christmas program for one of grandma’s clubs. The sizable group met at Kathryn Willet’s home overlooking the pond, for their Christmas gathering.

The ‘piece’ grandma chose for me to recite was a seasonal ditty I had heard all my life. She loved to quote lines from a poem she had known as a girl. It was a favorite. The first lines of Little Fairy Snowflake, a poem about snowfall and winter, begin “Little Fairy Snowflake, dancing in the flue…”  This proved to be an immediate tongue twister for my aunt as a child, who gleefully began her version with “Little Fairy Flo-snakes, dancing in the blue…” That became the standard version in our family.

I managed to memorize the poem and recite it correctly for the ladies, with only a small amount of prompting from Grandma. It put a great smile on her dear face. But no matter how familiar and congenial those ladies were, the whole experience reinforced my great dislike of being before a crowd. I am not a performer in any sense of the word.

Grandma Berry also worked hard to give me a taste of what Christmas was like when she was a girl. She knew I would appreciate it, and I did and still do. I was a willing participant in her new/old style adventures. We crafted gifts from paper and paints and jars for me to give as gifts and made ornaments from pipe cleaners and jar lids. We recycled cards before it was a thing.

For a number of years we had a standing date to attend the Christmas Bazaar held by the Methodist ladies in the church basement. I saved my allowance in anticipation and off we would go.

This was a wonderland of hand embroidered pillowcases, lace edged tablecloths, hand-knit slippers and mittens, potholders and countless other items. We conspired on gifts, purchased items and partook of the bake sale and pie and beverage portion of the bazaar too. After the shopping I happily spent the remainder of my change at the Fish Pond. Grandma visited with her friends. They chatted over pie and tea and genially bragged about their grandchildren…and talked of the upcoming Christmas Programs.

Take the drive. Feed your soul. Enjoy the Peace.

Merry Christmas and Peace from the Pines. Julie and The Gardener



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