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by rc dewinter
- Artist Notes
- © 2010 RC deWinter ~ All Rights Reserved
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When I was growing up, Christmastime in our household was a constant flurry of upheaval, with baking marathons in the kitchen and the elaborate decorating of every room, even those that most visitors would never see.
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Teddy and I were generally allowed to ‘help’ our cook, Mrs. Degnan, with the holiday baking, even though much of what we did consisted of getting in the way, spilling things and sticking our fingers into every bowl to taste the myriad doughs and batters that would become treats so delicious I can almost taste them to this day.
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But we were never allowed anywhere near Mama and Auntie Rose as they unpacked the dozens of boxes that for most of the year held our Christmas treasures; we were inexorably banned from whatever rooms they were working in. Mama and Auntie would try to outdo one another with new variations of holiday decor, each taking one room at a time and making it as festive as possible without exceeding the conservative boundaries of Yankee good taste.
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Because Auntie was so tiny, in the evenings after dinner Papa was often enlisted to help her place gewgaws and garlands in the higher reaches of the rooms she was decorating. Mama worked alone, although occasionally she would summon Papa for his opinion on her decorating schemes.
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The most sought-after chamber in this yearly contest was the front parlor, where we would receive visitors. There was a hard and fast rule that the honor of embellishing the parlor alternated annually; otherwise, as Mama said, she and Auntie Rose might well come to fisticuffs as to whom the honor would fall. In this room was our grand Christmas tree, always erected in front of the window during the first week of December but not decked out until the week before Christmas, when company would begin to call. ~ from the diary of Ellen Fall (1889-1965)
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