Our Main Street in Batavia was decorated with festive lights, and shoppers lined the street. Walking down the street on a Friday night, you could visit with your friends and neighbors as you listened to Christmas music from CL Carr’s outdoor speakers. Everything you needed for Christmas shopping you could buy on Main Street. CL Carr’s Department Store, JJ Newberry, WT Grant, Scott and Bean, and Alexander were some of my favorite stores.
After a day of shopping, you would go home where your house might smell of a freshly cut Christmas tree, or in our case, our living room had an aluminum tree. It was lit by a motorized magic color wheel that played Silent Night. The gifts were all nestled under the tree, waiting for Christmas morning. The homemade felt stockings mom had made hung from the fireplace mantle.
We always had our manger set up, and we remember having our picture taken kneeling next to the figures. Then, we all gathered in the living room on Christmas morning to take turns opening our one special gift.
Of course, we knew there would be that famous monopoly game later in the day.
Our next event was attending Christmas Mass and listening to the Christmas hymns from the organ loft. As we entered the pew, I remember my father separating me from my brother Tony for obvious reasons.
After Mass, we would go home and wait for Grandma to arrive from Le Roy with our 25-pound turkey and her homemade pies. It was such a simple time. At night we went for a ride in the family station wagon to look at the Christmas lights and always stopped at, as we called it, the Blind School to see the miniature Christmas Village. During Christmas vacation, we went sledding down state street hill, hoping to miss the one tree at the foot of the hill.
We would go skating at Macarthur Park on the tennis courts. We had snow from Thanksgiving until St. Patrick’s Day, and we never saw grass until then.
Over the years, our Christmases have changed. We all were blessed with children, and our parent’s living room was filled with grandchildren. The grandchildren are grown up, some have moved away, and there are definite changes in our Christmases. We have lost the matriarch and patriarch of our family. Christmases will never be the same, but we will always have those cherished memories of sitting in our parent’s living room with our aluminum tree, the manger, and mom and dad smiling at their six children and grandchildren.
As a footnote
Besides the memories of the 60s, the reality of living in the 60s can be seen in many ways. In 1960 you could buy a new house for $12,675. The average income was $5,199 rent was $98. You could buy a gallon of gas for $.25. Back then, we never knew there would be the technology of texting a message; in the 60s, you mailed a letter, and a postage stamp cost four cents. And if you were lucky enough to have a Ford Mustang, it would’ve cost you $2,368. And you can’t forget that $.25 burger!
Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, and Happy New Year 2022-2023