A Christmas Remembered

christmas parlour

It is the year 1946, and I am 10 years old. It is Christmas Eve day and my brother, who is 12, and myself are going out into the woods behind the house to find the perfect Christmas tree. My mother is working in the kitchen baking bread and apple pies for Christmas dinner. Dad, like any other day, is off to work to make ends meet.

It is very cold outside, so we get all dressed up from head to toe. It takes almost twenty minutes to get everything on in it’s proper place. My brother takes the axe down, and off we go, my mother telling us to be careful and not to go too far. After about an hour of looking and walking, and looking some more, we find it. The perfect tree. We cut it down and drag it home, thinking about what a great job we have done. Mom helps us stand it up in the porch to dry off until Dad comes home. Long after we are in bed, he will set it up in the living room. We spend the rest of the day helping mom clean the house to make the time pass more quickly.

Dad comes home and announces that he received a Christmas Bonus at work, so he and mother will be going into town to go shopping after supper. In those days it was not unusual for people to go shopping on Christmas Eve, as most stores were open until midnight. This was the most popular time to do your sneaky shopping. A Christmas bonus was a very important thing to a family. It meant getting things they would not normally get. Mom calls the neighbors, and Carol, their daughter, comes to stay with us. She tells Carol that she can make a pan of fudge for us as a treat, and that she expects for us to be fast asleep in bed when they return home.

All goes well with the fudge, of course, and then it’s off to bed for us. We are all pretty excited by then and it takes what seems like an eternity to fall asleep, wondering and dreaming about tomorrow.

Night passes quickly and before we know it, it is 6 am. And we are wide awake. My brother comes running to my room to wake me up and to show me what he found at the foot of his bed. A stocking filled to the brim with goodies. I scamper to find mine at the foot of my bed, and yes it too is filled to the top. The excitement is too much to bear as we empty them out, carefully examining all the precious contents. There is an orange, an apple, some chocolates and nuts, some little toys and a spinning top.

Pretty soon we get tired of waiting and decide to sneak downstairs little knowing our parents are awake and aware of our every move. Down the stairs we creep, and we can hardly believe our eyes. The house has been decorated from top to bottom and there in the corner of our living room stands the tree, the most beautiful tree in the whole world, I’m sure, and under it, presents for each of us. We’re sure we are the luckiest kids in the world.

By then, mom & dad and my older brother of 15 have come downstairs and we all sit to open our presents. My present is a beautiful doll that drinks from a bottle and really wets. My brother gets a train which we discovered later had been put together by my father and brother late the night before. It’s funny, but I can’t remember what anyone else got, I guess I was just too excited.

After a breakfast of eggs, bread & molasses, my dad announces that we should all get dressed as he wanted to show us something in the garage. In no time at all we are ready at the door waiting impatiently. Slowly he opens the garage door to reveal his surprise. Not a puppy, or a kitten, or a car. Something even better... a brand new bob sled that he had built for us. It was big enough to hold 10 people, and we could barely wait to try it out. Down the road from our farm was an old logging road that was about a mile all uphill. Off we went up the hill and everyone piled on. What a ride we had, she flew like the wind, and by the end of the day we had pretty well the whole neighborhood taking turns.

Needless to say, by supper time we were ready for a rest. It was time to sit down to the beautiful turkey supper mom had cooked. And no one could cook a turkey like mom. After supper, we retired to the living room and my father and brother who were musically inclined, got out their accordions and we sat around the fire singing songs until we fell asleep.

Christmas time was a happy time in our house, we were like most people back then, not owning much in the way of worldly goods, but rich in family and love.

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