Thursday, December 11, 2008

Leif's First Christmas 1975 - Manhattan, Kansas - 11 Months

Leif was a precious 11 month old on his first Christmas. We were living in the old stone house in Manhattan, Kansas and Peter Anthony was just turning seven.

Christmas is magical for kids, but also bewildering. All of a sudden there are so many new things, a Christmas tree all decorated with lovely bright lights and pretty, shiny (often breakable) objects, a Nativity scene, presents wrapped under the tree (no baby knows what they are for), new music, new foods, and Santa.

Lots of children are afraid of Santa (real people dressed as Santa, that is). Adults often don't understand that, but if you consider it from a small child's point of view, they've never seen anything like that before! Some big (huge from their point of view) guy in weird clothing and lots of white hair and a beard (also something many children have never seen). He wants to hold them and says loudly, "Ho, ho, ho." Heaven knows what will happen next.

Peter Anthony had a birthday party in mid-December. His real birthday is December 25th. Peter W. decided to dress up like Santa and make an appearance. I don't remember where he got the costume, probably at Army Community Service at Fort Riley, but it didn't come with any kind of decent beard or hair. Peter tried to make them out of cotton batting and figure out some what to put them on. What a riot! The kids were small enough, and unsophisticated enough, that they didn't really notice that it wasn't remotely like hair and could have easily been pulled off.

So, one of the photos above is of "Santa" holding Leif. In the 1970s, we were still taking a mixture of B&W and color photos. I wish I had a color version of this one now.

Then there is a photo of Leif sitting in his high chair at the dinner table on Christmas Eve, and another one of him sitting on the floor with me, all dressed for bed, when we were opening presents. In our family, the tradition is to open family gifts on Christmas Eve. Santa comes to our house, but he doesn't bring the main gifts. He brings some small "extras."

And best of all, the photo of my three handsome guys looking happy! They are holding the Saint Nikolaus doll that we got in Nurnberg some years before, at the Christkindlmarkt. We still have that doll, but it is getting a bit worse for the wear after so many years.

Leif wasn't talking yet at this point, so we have no way of knowing just what he was thinking. He certainly was wide-eyed and interested.

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