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The red hat that became my most cherished Christmas memory

Do you have a favorite Christmas memory? Something from a holiday(s) in your past that warms your heart and puts a smile on your lips any time of year, but especially at Christmas? We all have memories of growing up. Some better than others, right? Life has a way of hurting us at times and holidays are certainly no exception. But as a “glass half full” kind of gal, I try to skip past the not-so-good memories and dwell instead on the pleasant ones. So, here’s my favorite Christmas memory:

It all began at the annual Ladies Auction. Each year before the holidays, families gathered some of their very best items and proudly placed them on the many, many tables crammed into the church fellowship hall (read basement). Items usually included quart jars of canned fruit and vegetables; homemade pies; handmade quilts, aprons, and potholders; along with an assortment of hand-crafted decorative items for the home. Each item was given its due. The year’s chosen auctioneer held up each item in turn and coaxed the audience to bid. (I use the term “auctioneer” very loosely. It generally meant anyone with a loud, projecting voice.)

One year, what would be forever after known as “the red hat” was auctioned off. An obvious beginner to the knitting world had fashioned the hat. A simple triangle, made from bright red yarn, featured two long knitted strings. The idea was to place the triangle on top of your head and keep it in place by tying the two strings together under your neck. My dad, ever the prankster, decided it would make the perfect gift for one of his adolescent daughters. He won the bid and the hat, but neither my sisters nor I ever wore it. Instead, we confiscated the red hat and wrapped it up for him that Christmas.

We thought our trick was so funny that every year thereafter we wrapped up the red hat and wrote “Dad” on the gift tag. Each Christmas, when opening gifts, we’d hold our breaths as the “hat package” made it into Dad’s hands. Dad would pause before opening the package and say, “This better not be that %*&# red hat!” Then we’d all have a good laugh as he unwrapped the gift for yet another year.

We became adept at disguising the red hat: one year forcing it into a paper towel cardboard tube, another year placing it inside a series of boxes with the hat wrapped in the smallest box. And each year Dad would repeat the infamous phrase, “This better not be that %*&# red hat!” Mom would exclaim, “Earl! Language!” and we’d fall all over ourselves with giggles and snorts of laughter. I’m not sure where the red hat ended up. Its memory certainly lives on, because all these years later, I’m still smiling about it.

That’s one of my favorite holiday memories. Please share your favorite Christmas or holiday memory. It might just prompt a fond memory (and some joy) for someone else!

*****

I need your help, friends! I’m working on an upcoming story about recycling or upcycling Christmas gift wrap, boxes, and ribbons. If you have any fun, creative ideas to share, please hop on over to my forum and share your suggestions! I’ll be sure to give credit to the ideas I use.

##RVDT1759

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travelingjw
1 month ago

This is a different one, the first time I ever purchased a Christmas Tree. We’re Jewish. My Mother-in-Law had to recover from an injury and we invited her to stay with us. When Christmas came around we realized that she would really miss her Christmas Tree and her lights. Covid forced me to buy the tree, alone. The salesperson kindly laughed at my ignorance. Had no idea what to purchase but found, one that had a great shape and a strong smell. I brought it home and set it up, but instead of a “great” reaction my Mother-In-Law expressed concern. She thought my Mother would “turn over in her grave” knowing that there was a Christmas tree in the house as my Mother was brought up an Orthodox Jew. I explained to her that my Mother would be really upset if we didn’t make her feel at home; it is the spirit family, and that is what I was taught.

Robin
1 month ago

I grew up on a NW Missouri farm in the early ’50’s. Times were tough during those years.
My mother always saved the gift wrap, ribbons and bows, especially those used by my aunt, who always used really nice papers. Each year Mom instructed us kids to open carefully so we didn’t tear the paper or break the ribbon.

As a very young girl I learned to use an electric iron by practicing my ironing skills while pressing the prior year’s gift wrappings and getting them ready to be re-used. Fresh from the ironing board they looked good as new!

DW/ND
1 month ago

Our greatest memory seems to get better every year for the past 9 years – the birth of our lst Great Grandson on Christmas day! (We now have 4 – boy April 1st, girl day after Labor day and a girl at Easter! (I advised our granddaughter of how many holidays there are in a year!).

Gail
1 month ago
Reply to  DW/ND

That’s great! We have grandkids born on 11/11/11 and 11/12/13. So glad our daughter also made it easy to remember birthdays!

Deborah Mason
1 month ago

When I was in high school we fell on hard times. That year I painted a few windows at local businesses & earned enough to buy a coat to replace the very unstylish hand-me-down that brought ridicule at school. I used the rest of the money to repay my mom for the paints and, more importantly, to buy the assortment of stocking stuffers that my younger brother & sister wouldn’t have had otherwise. Every last penny was gone, but I didn’t care.

Gail
1 month ago
Reply to  Deborah Mason

You surely had the true spirit of Christmas, Deborah. Thanks for sharing this wonderful memory!

John M
1 month ago

We have one of those red hats and ever since we got our 3ft stuffed Boyds Bear we call Ben he wears the hat for Christmas while setting in the rocking chair he sets in all the time.

Donald N Wright
1 month ago

My favorite Christmas Present was the birth of our daughter on Christmas Eve.

ValC
1 month ago

Ive always saved a few pieces of leftover gift wrap from presents for my son and now granddaughters. Those scraps are used to wrap tiny jewely gift boxes. I then write the date on them and use them as ornaments for my 4ft christmas tree(s). This has been going on since my son was born in 1981.

tom
1 month ago
Reply to  ValC

neat.

Gail
1 month ago
Reply to  ValC

Great idea! Thanks for sharing!