Monday, December 14, 2015

Preserving Holiday Memories- "The Ghosts of Christmas Past"

Every genealogist should start by writing down their own memories, so I am modeling the way.
Christmas 1955                                                 

I decided to search my brain for memories of "Christmas Past."  I seem to have found some "Friendly Ghosts" but I am  not always sure of the accuracy of those ghosts.  I hope that after I write this down that it will generate many corrections and additions from my family.

I really don't have any memories of Christmas in the 1950s but I found a few pictures:

Nick Cimino Christmas 1954
Christmas 1955- Left to right: Elaine Kelly, Christine Watson, Nick Cimino, Jill Cimino, and Jack Kelly.  George Kelly is the horse and my dad, Dick Cimino is the rider.  This was at the Kelly residence on Parkside Court in Sacramento. 
This is another picture of me from the 1950s.  I am guessing that this was Christmas 1956.  The plug in the baseboard makes me think it is at the home of my grandparents, True and Helen Mayne in San Francisco.  It looks like I am wearing mukluk slippers.  There appears to be a Raggedy Ann Doll laying near me in a heap.

The Cimino Christmas Eve in the 1960s was usually celebrated at Uncle Tony and Aunt Betty's house on Demaret Drive in Sacramento.  Uncle Tony Cimino was the oldest and he and Betty had six children: John, Mike, Paul, Tim, Mary and Toni.  There were four children in our family: Nick, Vicky, Vince and Faran.  Aunt Betty and her husband, Elson Hancock had two children: Mary Lynn and Larry.  Aunt Joy Gail had two daughters: Rhonda and Aleen Burns.  In the early years,  we would get presents for every aunt, uncle and cousin, which made Christmas a very expensive endeavor.

As the years progressed,  we switched to a gift exchange where we would draw names out of a hat for the following year.  I can't remember if we had a meal together on Christmas Eve but I am pretty sure there were cookies.  Grandpa Dick and Grandma Macy had a tradition of giving all the grandchildren a box of chocolate covered cherries on Christmas Eve and the adults received a ham. Several of the Cimino family dispersed from Sacramento in the late 1970s so that was the end of the Cimino Family Christmas Eve celebrations.  You knew that you had come of age when you received the ham but I still long for the chocolate covered cherries.

Christmas morning was almost always spent at our home at 2352 Craig Avenue in Sacramento.  My most vivid memories of Christmas presents include the four inch think Readers Digest Great Encyclopedic Dictionary and the subscription to Quinto Lingo.  I think it was my mother who liked to encourage my scholarly aspirations but I seem to recall my Aunt Donna Johnson also sent educational presents.
The Readers Digest Great Encyclopedic Dictionary.  I received one of these as a Christmas present in the 1960s.

It was either my mother or my Aunt Donna Johnson that was encouraging my interest in foreign languages when she got me a subscription to Quinto Lingo for Christmas.

Grandpa Dick and Grandma Macy usually hosted a dinner on Christmas Day at their house at 4434 61st Street in Sacramento.  Their Christmas tree was made of aluminum and it was displayed with a color wheel lamp that would rotate to the different hues.  The house was filled with aunts and uncles and cousins at holidays.  My cousins and I would play cards in the winter and play hide and seek or tag in the yard in warmer weather.

Christmas Day 1977- Grandma Macy is on the left and Grandpa Dick on the right. Vince Cimino is the guy on the couch with the long hair and Saturday Night Fever shirt collar.  The baby is my nephew, Gino Valenzuela.  Others in the picture include my brother, Faran and my sisters Vicky and Shannon.  I am the guy with the yellow shirt in the center.  The shiny aluminum Christmas tree has been replaced with a green artificial tree.

The disturbing part of all of these memories is that I cannot seem to find any photographs of the Cimino Christmas Eve celebrations.  I know there must be dozens out there in the collections of the extended family.  Perhaps this will prompt my family to send me a few.

Merry Christmas!

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