Waking up to snow covered tree limbs and softly falling snow in the air is a truly beautiful sight. It all brings back beautiful memories of a long ago childhood.
Ithaca, New York, is a special place anyway. Where else do you have such a wonderful educational climate of public and private schools and Ithaca College and Cornell University?
In addition to being the perfect place to grow up, one thinks of that gorgeous sight of everything being covered in freshly falling snow.
Certain things stand out in Ithaca’s past. One would be the Christmas caroling each year and having treats on hand for the carolers. We would have hot chocolate and cookies available.
In our house on East Hill we had a fireplace and the smell of the wood plus the beauty through the windows cannot be even visualized by those not ever there.
We had apple cider on the back porch. We had to wait until the right time! In those days, preservatives didn’t have to be added to the apple cider, so, at a certain time, our fathers and mothers would bring in the cider for all to enjoy. The special “nip” it had cannot be compared to any other.
Today, one can find non-preservative laden apple cider, but you have to know just where to find it or make it yourself. It’s a secret we recently discovered when we were lucky enough and privileged to make a visit.
This author didn’t want or need to stay away from Ithaca for over thirty years. But what an emotional time it was to get to return and think about the times of Christmas.
A neighbor lady brewed this special Christmas tea for open house guests and you could smell it all through the neighborhood. It had a flowery scent and she enlisted children in the area to help her prepare it. She was very special but had some unusual ways. One was that she decorated her Christmas tree and had it on her open front porch, very high up on the top floor. She didn’t like to take it down, so we often had Christmas tree lights at night all the way to June. The tree, of course, was stripped of it’s pine needles but the lights went on anyway.
Christmas music filled the air. Musicians from both Ithaca College and Cornell University added their gifted touches in music to the Ithaca atmosphere. The voices we heard singing sounded like angels from heaven.
There was a special couple, friends of the author’s parents, who would invite the family each Christmas eve to come and enjoy Christmas singing and treats. It was a very special time to look forward to.
Christmas eve meant going to bed early and waking up to all of those presents. Some family members, rather far away, celebrated opening Christmas presents on Christmas eve, and so, it wasn’t quite the same. However, looking back, it was best to have experienced that other family type of Christmas, at times.
A grand memory is the closing of the steep Buffalo Street hill to traffic so the residents and students could go sledding and skiing down the hill. It was so very wonderful. Sometimes you would just use pans and cardboard pieces, just something to sit or lie down on. What a joy!
We must remember the Christmas dinners, with all kinds of wonderful dishes and desserts. We got to have meals all together at a large dining room table set with linens and the finest silverware and glassware.
Love permeated our Christmas get-togethers, and it was a time to celebrate the birth of Jesus. We were privileged, at that time in Ithaca, to have religious education in the schools. In elementary school we had a visiting teacher who would schedule us to visit Christian and Jewish churches so that we could learn about other beliefs. The author doesn’t remember a mosque being in Ithaca or the surrounding areas, but maybe today there is one.
Ithaca, you see, was always a diverse community, and what is valued in highest regard is that anyone growing up in Ithaca learned about, played with, studied with, others from all types of backgrounds.
And so, each child experiencing beautiful Christmas time, also could know about and appreciate others’ ways.
There is no place quite like Ithaca, and especially at Christmas time!