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Life as I see it…

Christmas Memories


December 18, 2019

The sounds of laughter floated up the stairs and into my bedroom even though the door was closed. A hot card game was going on in the kitchen and Don and I had been banished to our bedrooms. We were to young to take part in the festivities below because we had to nap before we went to midnight mass.

I was determined to stay awake until it was time to go, but in no time, Millie was shaking me awake and telling me to get dressed for church. It didn’t take me long to choose a dress to wear because I only had a couple of choices. Soon I was on my hands and knees retrieving my shoes from under the bed.

Soon we were all dressed and ready to go. We piled into Dad’s Chevy and took off. It was cold in the car and my bare legs were freezing. There was no way we would be allowed to wear pants to church no matter how cold it was. The packed church was full to the brim which meant we had to sit very close to the front. Mom would be on the lookout for any of us who got fidgety or sleepy. Dad was often guilty of stirring around the loose coins in his pocket as well. I tried so hard to listen and take part in mass. My head was filled with thoughts of presents, for Santa always came while we were at church. The hard kneelers were also a distraction. My skinny knees didn’t have much padding and I tried switching my weight from one knee to the other. And I think we had to kneel more in those days. Maybe that was punishment for our transgressions.

Finally mass was over and we slowly made our way to the car. There were many shouts of “Merry Christmas”. The snow crunched under our feet reminding us that it was winter-time in Wisconsin. Again we climbed into a cold car which took several miles to warm up. I could barely stand it! Would we ever get home?

At last we made it. Dad let us out by the yard gate and he drove the car into the shed. Don and I raced each other to the back door and inside we soon shucked off our boots. Peeling off our coats, we finally made to the living room and the Christmas tree. Wow! There it was, the most beautiful doll house I had ever seen. I couldn’t believe it. We usually didn’t get such extravagant presents. It was a two-story house with all kinds of furniture and little people. It was all mine and I didn’t have to share it with anyone.

There were presents for everyone. Mom got a new wringer washer and she was thrilled. Most of the presents were practical ones like clothes. I also got a new Roy Rogers book and Don got some farm toys. After presents were put aside, we gathered around the kitchen table to have a snack before going off to bed. Mom outdid herself every Christmas and we got spoiled with all of the goodies she had made over the last two weeks.

By today’s standards our Christmas probably looked skimpy. There was no Black Friday where people got to fight over the best bargains. No stores stayed open into the night hours to accommodate shoppers. Don and I practically wore out the Sears and Penney’s catalogs looking at all of the toys we knew we wouldn’t be getting. But we didn’t feel deprived.

Our world was small, and like our neighbors and relatives, our main concern was making a decent living and paying the bills. We lived off the land and there was little money left over for entertainment, activities and toys. We had the necessities of life and we took good care of what we had. I still have that doll house from so long ago and most of the furniture is still there. There were no TVs with screens the size of the dining room table. We didn’t have wall to wall toys. Our entertainment came from visiting relatives and neighbors. We knew the real reason for Christmas and we celebrated by going to mass and by gathering together with our family and sharing what we did have with others.

Best wishes to all of my readers. May the peace, joy, generosity and love of Christmas follow you into the new year.


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