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One of the blessings of the holidays is enjoying family traditions. When I was growing up with my two brothers and two sisters our grandmother made us “Christmas Oatmeal Boxes” as an alternative to the usual Christmas stockings and the memories of those silly boxes still makes me smile. They were filled with little toys and candy (one regular item was the Swiss Colony Xmas mouse with a red hat – we loved it and we used ours to make shaved chocolate on our New Year’s eggnog). As we all grew up we still enjoyed our Oatmeal Boxes, and as we got married Grandmom even made up one for our spouses. Sometimes a special friend or two, if they had been around for many years, would be surprised by also receiving one of Grandmom’s Oatmeal Boxes. It was always considered a special honor to be included in the family tradition. Grandmom spent all year eating oatmeal for every breakfast and decorating the boxes with contact paper and yarn to make the handle for the lid. She poured over catalogs to find silly things to put in them (like silly shaped pencil sharperners (I still have one shaped like an old fashioned sewing machine), funny toilet paper, and toothbrushes with “boobies” for bristles for the boys). Some years she would have a “theme.” I remember one year she gave all the men plastic cave man clubs (fully wrapped and with a bow – just looking at the packages cracked us up) and in everyone’s oatmeal box we had windup dinosaurs. We spent hours laughing and giggling on the kitchen floor having races with our dinosaurs. Even though we were now in our 30s and 40s we were able to enjoy a little Christmas as if we were only five again, thanks to the love that our Grandmom shared with us through her Christmas Oatmeal Boxes.
While clearing out some things from the garage a few months ago I found an old oatmeal box. It was a bit dusty and beat up – but filled with memories. I knew just what I wanted to do with it. My brother, C.S. is in a nursing home in Arkansas (he is blind and lost both his leg from diabetes). I send him a little care package of sugar free goodies each month. For xmas I like to send a bigger package with a couple of xmas gifts. This year my brother will be getting a Christmas Oatmeal box. It won’t have the same “flair” Grandmom’s used to have, but it will still contain the memories and love. I packed it with a comb (that was a standard Grandmom addition), fingerless gloves and crocheted cap (he is always getting cold), a few sugar free goodies (life savers and gum), and a tshirt that says “for a good time insert coin here,” (I found the tshirt on sale for $5 a month ago and knew right away it would be a perfect silly gift for the oatmeal box).
Family traditions and the love and memories they carry with them last a lifetime. I feel truly blessed to have the memory of Grandmom’s Christmas Oatmeal Boxes and so glad I am able to be able to share that memory with my brother this year.
What is your favoriate family tradition?
Bright blessings, Lady Rose