childhood christmas memories


Thanksgiving is now behind us and this is the weekend where for many Christmas shopping and decorating begins in earnest. It also begins the memory season for a lot of people.

I am not a big Black Friday shopper, but yesterday I did spend some time in one of my favorite places, Chester County Book Company. I had a terrific gift certificate waiting for me there having won the County Lines Magazine “Capturing Chester County” photo contest.

I love book stores, and always have. As a child I also loved my school’s annual Christmas Book Fair.

I went to St. Peter’s School in the Society Hill section of Philadelphia at 4th and Pine. It was a wonderful school to be a child in, and Society Hill at the time was being reborn, so while some will allude any child who spent any time growing up there was sniffing rarified air in a snotty sort of way, well sadly for them, they just don’t get it. Yes the air was rarified in a sense, but the sense was that of a very cool and historic place.

Anyway, after Thanksgiving as a child always meant in addition to annual things and pilgrimages like the light show and lunch in the Crystal Tea Room at John Wanamaker’s, the enchanted colonial village at Lit Brothers, the other Christmas displays at Gimbel’s and Strawbridge’s, and picking out a Christmas tree on sometimes snowy visits to what I think were rail yards with my father, it meant the Christmas Book Fair at St. Peter’s.

One nice thing about being a child growing up through the 1960s and 1970s is it was not politically incorrect to call things “Christmas Book Fair” or “Christmas Pageant” or “Christmas Festival”. And the Christmas Book Fair at St. Peter’s was as festive as it sounded. The school was festooned with decorations and greenery….it literally smelled like Christmas in every corner of the school. It was wonderful and everyone no matter what religion, loved it.

It was at the Christmas Book Fair as a little girl that I met a Philadelphia author my mother loved. As a matter of fact when I asked my mother about this today, she laughed and asked me if I remembered her bursting into tears when she met this children’s book author as an adult. I didn’t. But I do remember meeting an older magical woman with white hair who for a few years autographed one of her books to me annually.

The author’s name was Marguerite de Angeli. She was born in Michigan at the end of the 19th century, but moved with her family at the turn of the 20th century to Philadelphia. Her mother, Ruby, was best friends with the mother of my headmistress, Caroline Seamans.

Because of this lucky connection, as students then, we not only were able to become exposed to the wonderful writing and illustrating of Marguerite de Angeli, but to meet and spend little bits of time with her.


I don’t know if any of you have books from your childhood, but I have some. Among the ones I kept were the books of Marguerite de Angeli. Thee, Hannah. Henner’s Lydia. Elin’s Amerika. Skippack School. Bright April. A Door in The Wall. I have loved and cherished these books, and read and re-read them. To me these books meant Christmas.

These books written by Marguerite de Angeli are still magical and timeless. I think every child should read them, and you can still find them on eBay and Amazon. I found copies of the books hidden among my step son’s book shelves a few years ago. They had been the copies that my sweet man’s own mother had read when she was a child, passed to him as a child, and he had passed them along to his son. I have always found that very cool.

These books remain as cherished books in our library. (Probably more cherished by me the closet sentimentalist.) Today, I took my copies off the shelf to dust them and I stopped to read the inscriptions Marguerite de Angeli left for me. Almost instantly I was a little girl again at the book fair waiting for my book to be signed. What a wonderful memory to be revisited by.

Thanks for stopping by today.

From “Yoke”: Lefties this is your day!!!

Are you left handed?  I am!  And I never knew this was leftie day!  To me this day was always just the birthday of a springer spaniel I had as a girl named Abigail (she was an awesome dog!)

Anyway check out this post from Yoke.  Well worth a read.  When I was her little girl’s age, I did have some teahers who would have preferred I was not left handed.  And these teachers were nuns at St. Mary’s in Society Hill. Fortunately for me, my mother decided to switch me to St. Peter’s at 4th and Pine where they embraced individuality and differences in children. But I digress…here is the Yoke post:

L is for Leftie (Yoke)

Happy Left-Handers Day!

Just another silly day, you say?
Well, nay, nay.

(okay, that is ridiculous).

Left-Handers Day, held
annually on August 13 for the past 23 years, celebrates your right to be

Do you think the days of “forcing” children to be
right-handed are gone?

They aren’t, exactly.

Lily is a leftie.  And while no one has ever forced her to be right-handed, there has been many, many times when teachers have assumed she is right-handed. They’ve corrected her hand. They’ve assumed incorrectly. And before my Lily began asserting herself; she would grow frustrated and just refuse to write.

But, now, my little leftie speaks up (it is all very much like the
American Revolution) for her right to be left-handed. And we’ve had to relearn how to do things to support her development. Like switching the mouse on the computer from right to left; and handing Lily pencils or scissors on her left side. We also turn the paper for her, so writing from right to left, is a little less arduous.


….So for today, the 23rd annual Left-Handers Day, I leave you will some fun leftie facts:

  • Only 10-percent of the population is left-handed.
  • Left-handedness is supposed to run in families–neither Mike nor I are lefties. But we have some distant relatives who are.
  • Most left-handers draw figures facing to the right.
  • There is a high tendency in twins for one to be left-handed
  • Left-handers adjust more readily to seeing underwater.
  • Left-handers excel particularly in tennis, baseball, swimming and fencing
  • Left-handers usually reach puberty 4 to 5 months after right-handers
  • 4 of the 5 original designers of the Macintosh computer were left-handed
  • 1 in 4 Apollo astronauts were left-handed – 250% more than the normal level.