My Holiday Tale

The Holiday Tales & Traditions Blog Hop

Thank you Bernie Kringel from Needle and Foot for sponsoring this blog hop! This is the second, just for fun hop she is sponsoring this month. Bernie knows we all need a little extra holiday fun and good stories in our December this year, and I was happy to oblige and tell a tale of a Christmas long ago.

I grew up in a suburb of Reading, Pennsylvania (you know, Reading RR on the monopoly board). The 7 of us lived in this split level. Take note of that big picture window, it comes to play later in the story. I was the eldest of 5, 4 younger brothers – ranging from 13 months younger to 10 years younger. This was the house we grew up in, 4 bedrooms and 1 1/2 baths! One of the skills I learned then was to shower fast and be out the door first. I am still quick in the bathroom, even though there are no longer 6 other people waiting to use the bathroom.

Our Christmas tradition for many years, had been to start at my Grandparents house on Christmas Eve. This was their row home, in West Reading. The tradition was developed out of necessity – my parents figured out the only way to make Christmas manageable with 5 kids and get any sleep was to have Santa arrive first at our house. We would go to my Grandparents, and they would assemble Christmas.

It was a long wait, made longer by the celebrating that ensued before we would get to go back to our house. My parents would finish their “santa duties” and meet their friends for cocktails. Some of their friends and other relatives would then come to my Grandparents and about 48 hours later we would have dinner – well at least that was how it seemed to us kids!

Now, you may be wondering about this image. What does a cartwheel have to do with Christmas??? On this particular Christmas there was a surprise waiting for us. I am not sure when in the evening this happened, but I remember my mother saying , “Santa left something else”. She went downstairs and brought up a basket. We were beside ourselves. My youngest brother Joseph cried, everyone else screamed and hollered with excitement. My brother Tom attempted a cartwheel in the living room! We just couldn’t believe our dream came true.

This is not a picture of our kitties, but they looked very much like this as kittens. The were named Chet and Charlie, seal point siamese kittens, and lived with us for a very long time.

As they aged, the looked a little more like this. These are not my pictures of the cats – my childhood pictures are elsewhere, but they help to tell the story. This is a tale that was often retold in our family, as even the neighbors wondered what we got that Tom was so excited. They caught that cartwheel being done and couldn’t imagine what would cause that. I don’t think Tom had reached 6’3″ yet, but he was always pretty tall and the ceilings were not that high in that house. To this day, we celebrate Christmas Eve; he hasn’t done a cartwheel since for Christmas.

So, I hope the enthusiasm and fun of a big Christmas surprise brightens your day. I am smiling as I read this. Please check out Bernie’s blog and the other tales of holidays past. I wonder if there are any other tails in the posts?

Sew Preeti Quilts
Quilting Jetgirl
Confessions of a Fabric Addict
Academic Quilter
From My Carolina Home
MMM! Quilts
Pieceful Thoughts
Devoted Quilter
The Colorful Fabriholic
Me & My Quilts
Kathleen McMusing
Sarah Goer Quilts
Needle and Foot 

Coming Up on the Blog:
TGIFF – 12/18
#TTot22 – 12/22
Quilting Resolution 12/30
Wrap up 2020!

Disclaimer: *Links with asterisk indicate an affiliate link and as an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases. Your price is not any different, but a small percentage of the sale will go to supporting my blog.


  1. December 16, 2020 / 7:22 AM

    My holiday memories are so different from those of you who grew up in the US. And that makes it so much fun to read about them. Cartwheels for Kittens seems completely appropriate and the interminable wait for presents I can understand. I also completely relate to the absence of pictures. I can see it in my mind but I have no photographs to show. I try to paint a picture with words as I relive the memories. Wishing you and yours a Merry Christmas, Kathleen. Big hugs to you!!!

  2. Brenda @ Songbird Designs
    December 16, 2020 / 8:27 AM

    Such a sweet memory, Kathleen! I love it. But, what about the picture window? Did your brother crash into it doing the cartwheel? And who doesn’t love kittens? Well some might not, but I surely do! Merry Christmas to you and your family!

  3. Nancy Bekedam
    December 16, 2020 / 8:33 AM

    It’s fun to read about your childhood Christmas memories, Kathleen! Love the cartwheel, and the kittens for Christmas–every child’s hope, something alive and furry!

  4. lynn bourgeois
    December 16, 2020 / 8:33 AM

    Great Christmas memories Kathleen. I loved hearing about yours. Perhaps in Pennsylvania you would have snow for Christmas. When I was a child snow was always there over Christmas to the best of my recollection. I remember the reflection of the tree lights on our living room floors. They were hardwood floors that my dad laid when I was an elementary school child, and I have always been charmed by the warm wood glow from lights ever since.
    I have one unusual memory from Christmas past. I was a student nurse in 1965, working through a psychiatric rotation about 100 miles from home, and as it happened I was slated to be one of the students to work over the holiday. I was 17 yrs old at the time, and had always been home as part of our big family Christmas. I grew up in a coal mining town where friendships were tight, and celebrations many. The Christmas of 1965 when I wasn’t home with everyone, my mum and dad with some of our neighbours and friends sent me a Christmas box, not with typical presents, but with notes, and a large candle that would be lit on Christmas eve and would stay lit through till later on Christmas Day. I could feel the love and warmth of family and friends through that night, and into the 25th. While I still longed for home , I didn’t feel the pain of loneliness that might have been present without this outpouring of love.
    Wishing you and yours a Christmas of love and joy in the celebrating of this season.

  5. December 16, 2020 / 9:17 AM

    What a fun Christmas memory! I can just see your neighbors, looking over at you all in the house, and wondering what gift was causing your brother to cartwheel. Haha. I’m sure those kittens were well loved!

  6. December 16, 2020 / 9:42 AM

    Hi Kathleen! What a wonderful Christmas story. I wonder if you brother remembers that event and thinks about doing a cartwheel again just for fun. What a sweet little basket full of furry goodness. Thanks for sharing all the other links – I will definitely go check out the other stories and look for tails. {{Hugs}} ~smile~ Roseanne

  7. December 16, 2020 / 11:20 AM

    What great memories! I can see how the kitties would make a lifelong impression with a cartwheel celebration. I am thinking the neighbors saw the cartwheel in the window? How funny!!

  8. sewswift
    December 16, 2020 / 11:20 AM

    Such sweet memories here. I always wanted to get a dog or cat for Christmas…I would have done a cartwheel, too! Thanks for sharing!

  9. December 16, 2020 / 11:34 AM

    Well, I can’t do a cartwheel to save my life – never could actually. But I had fun imagining this scene in your living room on that Christmas morning. How sweet!!

  10. Jean McKinstry
    December 16, 2020 / 11:45 AM

    Love the memory, and what a huge surprise for you and your brothers. I guess my favourite memories are when our girls were small, and my Mum and Dad would visit us, and we would share present unwrapping together. Then there was the year when the girls were still little but a bit older, and they sneaked into the lounge, undid the papers, had a sneak peek, and wrapped them up again!!! Now they both live a long way from us, and we will share unwrapping over Zoom or Skype or a phone call.

  11. December 16, 2020 / 1:17 PM

    Ha, what fun! I also come from a large family, and wrangling everyone was always a challenge. With all the chaos, I certainly remember those times as happy. Somehow someone always managed to knock over the tree or break an ornament or something, but it always turned out just fine. Give the adults some wine and all is forgiven! Merry Christmas to you and yours!

  12. December 16, 2020 / 5:38 PM

    What a lovely memory, Kathleen. Waiting to open presents seems like forever but it is always worth the wait!

  13. December 17, 2020 / 2:08 PM

    Beautiful kitties (I know the photos are not of YOURS, but DH grew up with a seal point siamese and I met Max when he was a senior kitty – elegant and refined). The cartwheel is just TOO great of a story – thanks for sharing it!

  14. December 17, 2020 / 4:17 PM

    What a great story! I love that your story involved getting two kitties, and one of my favourite memories was when we got two! Beautiful house-we had four kids and my parents in 1000 sq ft house with one little bathroom, so I totally relate to the people waiting and be quick feeling! Still am like that to this day too.

  15. December 17, 2020 / 6:59 PM

    Kittens for Christmas is every little kid’s biggest wish! I can see why it would result in a cartwheel 🙂

  16. December 17, 2020 / 10:09 PM

    What wonderful memories and traditions. Thanks for sharing.

  17. Jo
    December 19, 2020 / 11:09 AM

    Thanks so much Kathleen for your memories and the story about your brother’s quite understandable reaction to the cutie kittens.
    This blog hop is so lovely to share and experience so many traditions of Christmas from far and wide.
    Have a Happy Christmas
    Jo in Liverpool England

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