12 Days of Christmas – Dorothia Rohner

Nearing the end for this series but first, here is Dorothia Rohner and her delightful Christmas Memories. I had to ask Dorothia to join these 12 Days after her beautiful winning work Firefly Forest she created for our SCBWI Bologna Showcase.

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My memories of Christmas as a child mingle together, but there are a few that stick out in my mind. I grew up with my five sisters, a brother and parents in Sunshine Canyon just outside of Boulder, Colorado. Needless to say, our house was chaotic around Christmas time. As I look back, I realize how much our mother loved Christmas. She always had something new and exciting for us to make or do.

On the first day of December, small elves started appearing around the house. Mom told us they were Santa’s helpers, so we’d better be good. It helped keep all seven of us kids on our best behavior, for a little bit anyhow.

The next sign of Christmas appeared on our huge, wobbly-legged kitchen table. On the first day of advent, the vinyl tablecloth was replaced with a bright red cloth. We cut pine boughs from the back mountain, carved styrofoam, inserted three purple candles and one pink one to make our advent wreath. The magic of Christmas settled in after that. Our family made home-made gifts for each other.  I remember the whispers, the secrets, hammering and sawing, sewing machine running late at night. Closed doors were not to be opened. We drew each other’s names for secret Kris Kringle’s. We would leave small gifts or do chores for each other, hoping not to get found out.

We baked sugar cookies, Kolaches, and nut breads to eat and give away as gifts. One year our mom created a sugar village. Made of stiff icing, she designed a whole village of lattice woven sugar and assembled each house. We were too small to help, so she did all the work. It took days for her to complete and when it was finished, my brother added a small mirror for a pond and cotton for snow. That year, the village graced the center of our table instead of the advent wreath.

Another year, Mom organized a Christmas Posada with other families in the canyon. We paraded from house to house – luminaries lighted our way. We sang Christmas carols as we followed Mary (my sister) and Joseph (a neighbor) up and down the canyon. They knocked on each door and were turned away. At the last house, we were all invited in for a winter party. I remember the excitement when the Christmas pinata finally broke open and candy spilled out everywhere.

On Christmas Eve, after a dinner of clam chowder, we were sent to bed early. Christmas morning, we were allowed to open our stockings before six o’clock mass. We would each get a long letter from ‘The Spirit of Christmas’. It told us how much we were loved and what qualities we had that were special.

After church, Dad cooked a huge pancake breakfast. After that, we finally got to open presents: books, socks, undies, clothes and a few toys. The others were home-made gifts. My  favorite was a rag-doll named Suzie. I still have her. The rest of day was spent playing games, sledding if it snowed, and, at last Christmas dinner.

Some of Dad’s college students that were away from home would join us. So dinner was always loud, full of laughter, wonderful food and lots of dirty dishes to wash. When the table was cleared, we played more games until we were sent to bed. I always felt a little sad to go to sleep, knowing the magic of Christmas was gone for that year.

This year, my Mom and Dad will be visiting for the holidays. The Christmas magic will be quieter, but tucked in both of their stocking will be letters from ‘The Spirit of Christmas’.

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From mountains to plains, Dorothia Rohner now resides in the Midwest (USA). Trained as a natural science illustrator, she now creates stories and pictures for children. She is the Illustrator Coordinator for SCBWI-Iowa was chosen as a recipient for the 2014 SCBWI Mentorship Award. Her most recent publications include: The Adventures of Mr. Mouse, A Wordless Story Game (Gryphon Design Collectives) & Numbers in a Row, An Iowa Numbers Book (Sleeping Bear Press). Find her online at:www.DorothiaRohner.com

Dorothia is also the Illustrator Coordinator and Webmaster for the IOWA chapter of the SCBWI.

 

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