Home Is Where You Hang Your Heart, read the wooden wall hanging over the stairs. We grew up in a log house built and designed by my dad, who was self-taught at such work. It had everything a family could want: plenty of bedrooms, bathrooms, a playroom, a sewing room, and a kitchen, with space enough for my mom to cook a big meal every night. The old-fashioned supper bell hung on the front porch beam and was used on occasion. My mom worked full-time, and yet every evening for supper, we had a complete, home-cooked meal. My parents worked tirelessly taking care of the home and raising three young girls. The house was kept warm all year round with a huge wood-burning stove in the basement. Five rocking chairs graced the front porch, and if we were not a-seat, then the cool mountain breezes kept them in motion. Mom baked friendship bread to share and candy for every season. We had needlepoint stockings, and when the weather turned cooler, we would pose for a family photo in front of the large living room window. For Christmas, the children would sit in a small, handcrafted, red wooden sleigh with wrought-iron runners. The snow fence was always studded in the front yard and could collect six-foot high drifts; we wore our snowsuits to play in the yard until we were completely numb. It was at this home that reindeer came up to the front porch one snowy Christmas Eve. And it was in this home where we hung our hearts. Now as an adult, my mom and I are Victoria readers. Our time together is on Friday nights, where we snuggle under blankets, listen to jazz, and share our Victoria magazines.
Mt. Pleasant, Pennsylvania
The holiday visit of the Dutch Baby was a Christmas tradition from my mother’s childhood years. On a night shortly before Christmas, the Dutch Baby would visit the children, poking its head out from under their beds and asking what they wanted for Christmas. Most visits were spent sharing hopes for something special under the tree. The Dutch Baby was a sock puppet crafted by my grandmother and operated by my grandfather. I never knew what the puppet looked like, but I do know that my grandmother was extremely gifted with a needle. Although I have never met another family with a similar tradition, I always thought it might have roots in German Christmas festivities.