Monday, December 30, 2013

Ghosts of Christmases Past

Who are all those staring-eyed children?  It's the Norquist Family, minus Dad, who must be behind the camera.  I am guessing this is about 1955.

I do not remember having this photo taken, but I do remember our Christmas Eves.  They were a very big deal.  They WERE Christmas.

Previous to this night there had been baking and shopping trips into Oregon City - there were no malls then - and lots of gift wrapping.  As I got older I helped with a lot of that.  As you can see, my mother had her hands full.

On Christmas Eve it all came together as we loaded up to go to Grandma and Grandpa's house on the farm where my mother grew up.  There we celebrated Christmas with aunts and uncles and several cousins.  My mother was the oldest child so we were the oldest grandchildren.  

Everyone dressed up.  The adults sat around the dining room table, near the too warm wood stove, and us kids ate at the round oak table in the kitchen.  We loved it there, with a Lazy Susan in the middle of the table, and olives to stick on your fingers.  We had fun while we ate our turkey dinner and all the trimmings.

There was always a mountain of cookies for dessert.  Finally we got to eat those goodies we had been baking.

The photo above must have been taken at our house after we returned from our grandparent's farm. On the way home we always begged to open our gifts that night.  There was talk about whether Santa Claus had come yet.  We were told to wait in the car while Mom and Dad got the fire going in the wood stove ( our source of heat in our old Willamette Valley farm house) and checked to see if Santa had come.  

Of course he came, just very busily as we waited in the car.  We didn't have much money, but somehow Mom and Dad came up with a mountain of gifts that were piled under the tree.

From that photo, it looks like we were just tired out after a very full Christmas eve.  I don't remember those tops Laurie and I are wearing, but it looks like maybe something my Uncle Don sent from Asia.  He was in the Navy and he had sent silk pajamas once before and I do remember those.  And I do remember that there were always new flannel pajamas for Christmas, which we snuggled into when we finally got to bed.

I'm curious about that shiny pole Laurie is holding.  Is it perhaps a pogo stick?  I do remember one.

As the years passed, the tradition continued.  I suspect this photo was taken before we went to Grandma's house on a Christmas eve three or four years later.  

Everyone looks happier and more awake, everyone but me that is.  That's about as much of a smile (none) as you could get from me in a photo those days.  As you are aware, I do not have pretty teeth, and there was no money for orthodonture.  I did not smile in photos, and always hated having them taken.  It also had to do with my extreme introversion and shyness and insecurity.  It could be said that I was a late bloomer - at about age 40!

Last Saturday I was with my sisters Laurie and Ilene, who is holding her puppy, Moochie, and my brother Henry, the one on the far right in the photo.  My brother Don lives near Boston and our little sister Betty Jo died years ago at age 33 from alcohol poisoning.  There was also another sister, Penny Ann, who was born with Downs syndrome, and was by this time in a state home. She died at age 42.  My mother and dad suffered greatly from the loss of these children.

My sister Laurie gave me enlarged copies of these photos on Saturday.  That's why I thought to post them now. As we were visiting we talked about the past, and my sisters and I shared memories.  As the three oldest we have memories that are exclusive of our brothers.  Laurie was the unsinkable Molly Brown and got herself into trouble a lot, especially with Ilene.  She frequently had to run for her life after she set off big sister.  As we were talking, Ilene said "Linda, you were always the same, always calm".

If they only knew.  Isn't that the definition of an introvert, calm on the outside but full of turmoil and conflict on the inside?  Yes, I put on a good face for many years, but it was not a happy face.  In fact it wasn't until I read the book Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World that Can't Stop Talking just last year that I finally came to appreciate that what was wrong with me wasn't really wrong at all. It was just who I am, and I had become powerful.   I smile now.

I guess it's good that we never stop growing up as we grow old.


  1. What beautiful life tapestries are woven by the many threads of our memories! I'm so glad that you are happier and that you smile now; it lights up your face!

  2. I read that book too, just this past year. I've had some of the same struggles personality-wise. I spend way too much time giving myself a talking-to in my own head. Looking at old photos is so much fun. I love the big smile that I've seen on your face in recent pictures of you on your blog.

  3. It was easy to pick you out in the pictures, and I'm so glad that you smile these days. I love the gap in your front teeth, it is YOU, and I think you're really pretty. Late blooming is way better than not blooming at all! I love your family pictures, and I am so glad to have you in my own virtual world. :-)

  4. Oops got an error on that comment.
    I don't think I have seen a recent picture of you that you are not beautifully smiling.
    That book did its magic and let you see your smile as the delight it is.

  5. Positive thoughts always. There are always people who are worse off than us. I am so glad you are doing well now, Linda. I wish you the best during the new year!

  6. I'll have to read that book about introverts-sounds interesting, When I was writing my life story and recalling my shyness, my mother and I had a BIG discussion about that. From her point of view I wasn't shy but I felt shy! Fun memories-thanks for sharing.

  7. Pictures like that are priceless. It's funny how they seem to show up years later.

  8. There was a lot of sadness in your young life and quite a bit for your parents to deal with. That must be why you're so strong. Still... those Christmases sound like such a joyous time.

    My talkative aunt tells me she was quiet when she was a child and now has to make up for it. My mom says she's amazed because Auntie Grace was the quietest kid around. It's hard for me to believe, but it must be true.

    I'm glad you're happy and having such fun now, Linda.

  9. I love your smile, as others have said it just lights up your face. I understand though, as my old dental work makes my side teeth look black and it shows when I smile. And I am a late bloomer. The book you mentioned? I have it checked out right now from the library but I have not yet read it. It was recently suggested to me so I think I will start it today. Happy New Year's eve and thank you so much for being my blogger friend. I love seeing the photos of your beautiful home and family, and enjoy your writing.

  10. Oh that is a lot of loss..... I love seeing photos and hearing about family traditions.... Happy New Year Linda.... Michelle


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