Toys and Games (Prompt 17)
Yours truly is so old-fashioned I still think chess is the coolest game. But the first game I remember playing is checkers; my Dad was the instructor/opponent for both. The games arrived as gifts from Santa.
In elementary school we were obsessed with playing marbles, but we called them "allies." It was a matter of taking turns to shoot your allie along the ground toward a "pot," that is, a hole you scooped out of the dirt. Any number of kids could play. The eventual winner ― and it quite escapes me now how the system worked ― got to keep all the allies in the pot. Everyone vied to collect the prettiest coloured marbles that we lugged back and forth to school in a cloth whisky-bottle bag with a drawstring.
The unique dolls my Grandma Freibergs made ... how I wish I still had them! Or even a photograph! She made them all of one piece in sturdy cotton, stuffed them, and embroidered the faces. Then, and that's where her seamstress training shone, she crafted a gorgeous dress with a long skirt. The brilliant part was when you turned the doll upside down, a completely new doll appeared in a different full length gown, different hair, different face. I, of course, thought Grandma invented them.
A little research educates me otherwise (another win-win for The Book of Me). They are called "topsy-turvy dolls" and their history goes back to plantation days in America ― not to Grandma's Latvian roots. The original doll babies had a white face and a black face. There's an interesting discussion on Historical Folk Toys http://www.historicalfolktoys.com/catcont/4716.html. In the early twentieth century, commercial companies began selling popular patterns so handy homemakers could make their own.
First Present or Gift (Prompt 18)
Can you remember it? Who bought it for you? Do you still have it?
FAIL here in the memory department. Maybe the first gift was the silver christening mug? ... now gathering dust in one of my descendants' cupboards (instead of in mine). Or the quilt Grandma made for my crib. The patches alternated in pink and blue, a clear sign no-one knew in advance which one I'd be. I think I still have it, if only I knew where to look.
The same Grandma created tiny baby dresses with incredibly detailed stitching. They became very fragile over the ensuing years; lack of proper care was a factor.
Then there was the handsome red sleigh my Grandpa Dougall made. Was it for me or for my father and his sisters before me? Lovingly crafted and ideal for all that previously-tolerated northern SNOW. It now resides with my niece in Quebec where they also have a winter abundance of SNOW and a few babies to enjoy it.
Who Do You Miss? (Prompt 19)
People who live elsewhere that we will not see over the festive season, people that have passed away; who do you miss? Why?
"Elsewhere" ... nearly all the important people in my life live elsewhere. Foremost I miss my children at odd times ― meaning actually any old time ― because they are all so far away. That means I am ever grateful for the likes of Email, Skype, and Facebook. And the technology helps me understand they are no longer the helpless toddlers I cherished or the fractious teenagers I despaired over.
I miss my long distance friends scattered on diverse pathways to global corners, some from way-back-when. Some intersect electronically on a fairly regular basis; others, regrettably, have gone by the wayside.
If I were to list them all and why I miss each not being 'round the corner to visit, I would still be writing this two years from now. Maybe sometimes they miss me too.
Much sadder is the fact that friends of childhood and later have died. Did they fulfill some of their dreams? Memories of times we shared always warm me. A special loss are those who went far too young ― my "twin" cousin H; my young cousin I; my beautiful cousin C. Family historians have deep roots and wide branches.
When I look back in review, as happens with this prompt, I didn't know I had so many friends ~ Happy Dance ~ Now I'm less and less of a social extrovert, relishing solitude, so it takes determined effort and time to develop new friendships. There are friends who connect through mutual interests. There are those who bond on different creative, emotional, intellectual, or spiritual levels. We are all complex human beings and it's a rare friend who sustains and nourishes you on all levels of your being with reciprocal sharing and trust ― the special few on whom you can count at all times are extra precious.
It may sound trite, but I can only say I am fortunate and blessed. Wherever my family and friends are, their regular presence is missed.