The Holidays in St. Louis During the 1980s

     I thought this article would be the appropriate way to conclude the basic family history.  I will continue to add information to the family history as I get it but often, when I think of my family, it is in regard to the holidays.

     I don’t remember much before the 1980s and we didn’t celebrate the holidays the same way after my grandmother, Alvina Ellis, passed away on February 12, 1991.  The holidays I will describe were typical of our holiday gatherings from 1981 to 1990.

grandma-ellis

Grandma Ellis – The Glue That Held Us All Together

     The holiday season kicked off on Thanksgiving at Grandpa and Grandma Ellis’ house.  Grandpa and Grandma had two daughters and our families would gather at their house.  Grandma, a cook without equal, always prepared the meal with some help from the grand daughters.  With nine grandchildren, she was cooking for an army.

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Grandma and Grandpa’s Flat on Kingsland Court

     Grandpa and I would put the leaves in the dining room table.  We would also put out as many card tables as we needed to accommodate the kids.  I was at the big table by this time sitting next to Grandpa.  We would get our jobs done before 11:00 a.m., so we could watch football.  Grandpa was a huge Cowboys fan and they always play on Thanksgiving.

     He would kick everyone out of the kitchen but his assistant, which was usually me, when he carved the turkey.  We would then take all the food in and everyone chowed down.  Usually we were so full we could barely move.  The adults would occasionally play cards but a number of us watched the football game.

christmas-eve-1986

Grandpa and Me in front on Christmas Eve 1986.

     Christmas Eve was also at Grandma and Grandpa Ellis’ but it was quite a bit different.  We could not turn on the television.  Grandpa would play their Christmas records.  We would eat a buffet type dinner of ham, corned beef and roast beef.  We would then open our presents by picking numbers.  Each present was numbered, so you could receive all your presents at once or you may wait awhile.

     Another Christmas Eve tradition was all the grand kids would sing a song, do a skit, etc. before we opened presents.  Grandma would then lead us in “Silent Night” after the kids were done singing.  My mother has preserved these traditions.

     Christmas Day was at our house.  The whole Diaz clan would gather.  All eight kids, my sister’s husbands, kids and Grandma and Grandpa Ellis would squeeze into the house on Villa.  We were packed in so tight that you had to go outside to change your mind.

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Grandma Ellis Modeling Her New Coat at Christmas

     One of the funnier things occurred when someone went into the kitchen for food or went to use the bathrooms.  They would yell, “Shift” and everyone would move a little bit to the left or right to let the person through.

     Most of the adults played cards.  Dad (Ernest C. Diaz) would usually be wearing his new flannel shirt.  Dad loved flannel shirts and always got a new one for Christmas.  My younger sisters and I would sit in the living room with a couple of my brother-in-laws and watch movies.  Everyone had a good time.

     We have many new traditions now but I still look back on those holidays as some of the best of my life.  I am thankful that my parents and grand parents taught us that the holidays were about family, rest and memories.  Thanks for the memories.

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