Besides, of course, Baby Jesus…
In our home Christmas was always such an exciting time. Usually a couple of weeks before Christmas out would come the decorations. Dad would bring home a Christmas tree and all of us would help decorate not only the tree but also on the mantle and different places around the house.
Our excitement would grow with every step of the decorations and preparations. Mom would be in the kitchen making up her fruit cakes to be given to friends and family both near and far and the doorbell would be ringing and we would be getting deliveries from companies that dad’s company bought from and sold to… Large boxes filled with grapefruits and oranges, bushel baskets filled with the biggest apples my eyes had ever beheld.
Dad would sometimes bring home gifts that company representatives had dropped by the office… Wisconsin cheeses, Vermont maple syrup and candy samplers, and the traditional candied fruitcake that has traveled around the world at least 9 million times.
Then came Christmas eve. All us kids would hang our stockings with care… on the back of the sofa. Dad didn’t want nail holes in the mantle plus the risk of a fire because it was normally cold and the gas stove in the fireplace was always going. I can remember being so excited that I could hardly go to sleep. Bennett and I usually ended up in the same bed because we tried to keep each other awake listening for Santa so we could ‘catch him in the act’. Of course we always fell asleep and missed the hooves on the roof top or the jungle of the bells on the sleigh.
At our home we always had a rule that we could come downstairs and get into our stockings, but we couldn’t wake dad before 7 a.m. I think that rule was put in place after Ben and I woke him up about 5:30 one Christmas morning because we couldn’t open our Christmas presents until daddy was up. He was not a happy camper that Christmas.
We would creep down the stairs being very quiet and get our stockings and look at all the boxes under the tree and look and try to figure out which ones were for us but we didn’t touch them. Then we would sit down and go through our stockings. There was always an apple, an orange and an assortment of nuts. There was ribbon candy and hard candies and the little pillow candies and a small toy or some little goody for us to play with a bit. The house would be filled with the smells of the turkey cooking in the roaster in the basement, the ham baking in the oven and pies sitting on the buffet that mom had cooked the day before.
Dad or one of the older brothers, usually Walter (Bro) because our oldest brother was in the army and sometimes didn’t get to come home for Christmas. There were always gifts of new pajamas and new clothes from mom and dad and we always had each gotten or made a gift for our sibs and for mom and dad. Usually at our age, me being 7 or 8 and baby Bro being 4 or 5, we would go to the Five and Dime about three blocks from the house and do our shopping there. We would look for just the right gift and usually ended up getting a tie for daddy and a small bottle of perfume for mom. They always acted so surprised and gave us big hugs for their wonderful gifts.
But you want to know, if you haven’t gotten tired of reading all this by now, what was my best gift ever…
Yep, pardner, Santa Claus brought me my Roy Rogers Vest and Chaps and my two gun belt and holsters and of course my hat. I was so excited I couldn’t hardly stand it.
I even got to wear my gear for Christmas dinner. Baby Bro was sitting next to me on the piano bench that we brought in when we had a lot of company. That is my mom standing next to Bennett. She seemed always to be bringing more food to the table and she always wore an apron when she cooked. After lunch it was out the door to visit the neighbor kids and check out our Santa special gifts. We would play for a couple of hours then it was time to come back in for pie. Pumpkin pie with huge spoonfuls of homemade whipped cream for me. There were pecan pies, chess pies and usually a couple or three cakes, chocolate cake or coconut cake that one or two of the aunts brought in and we always had Ambrosia because it was a favorite of dad’s.
And when the day was over I hung my chaps, guns, vest and hat on the foot post of my bed so they’d be right handy when I got up the next morning.
And that, my friends, was my best ever Christmas gift. I can still remember the roughout feel of my chaps and vest, smell the gunpowder from the caps in my capguns when I’d be shootin’ at the bad guys or riding my bike to round up the
A cowgirl’s dream come true.
Is there one gift, or two, that stand out in your mind from childhood Christmases? If so why don’t you share them with us? Help to get all the joy going for the season. Take a moment from your busy Christmas preparations and rest and refresh yourself and share.
After all it is the season for sharing…
I hope each and every one of you have a peaceful and joyous Christmas and that blessings of love and contentment abound in your homes.