Every Christmas was the best as they were filled with excitement and anticipation. We were a large family and while we each only received one gift and a family game, it seemed to us like mountains of gifts. It was always exciting because we had lots of love and good homemade goodies, friends and relatives dropping in to wish us the best of the season. Perhaps the one I most remember is when I was about 10 years old. I wanted a puzzle of the United States so very badly. Of course I could not wait so I snooped around and found that Santa had one stashed in the attic - I just knew it had to be mine. What a let down Christmas when I opened my one present and there it was - the surprise and joy of receiving something you wanted so badly was gone. I told myself never again would I snoop before Christmas. The biggest thrill came at the age of seven when I received the most gorgeous doll I had ever seen (at least in my eyes). My sister received one just like it. We were so excited. But soon we found out it was just to look at - so - on top of the piano it went. I have the doll to this day and it always reminds me of the thrill I had when I opened the package at the tender age of seven.
My dad was overseas in WWII and we didn’t know if he would ever return. So an uncle brought a pine tree to our house. The tree was about ten feet tall and magnificent and smelled like a Christmas tree should smell.
Ceilings in Texas in those days, as few homes had air conditioning, were all high so as to allow heat to rise above your head.
We had to stand on a ladder to really dress each branch with icicles and colorful balls, and wrap cotton around the base. All standard things that most families that celebrate the season have done for as long as they can remember.
I had four brothers and one sister and we all pitched in to make our tall tree the best possible.
Of course, we overloaded it with icicles and such until the branches were covered in silver. The Christmas lights were a real problem because you had to find the one bad bulb that kept the whole string from working. The tree had to be fairly sturdy as the stings of bulbs were quite large and heavy.
I helped move each bulb around so that each were more or less in harmony with its neighbor and not of the same color. Only the top bulb had a white light and Angel Hair was wrapped around it to give a halo effect.
When the lights were turned out and the tree lit the first time for real, we all made appropriate sounds of ooing and aahing. Then we ran outside to see how it looked from the sidewalk and made the same sounds again. There was no television and not much reason to hang out in the living room so we could leave it dark until bedtime so neighbors could remark on how lovely our tree was…and we could do the same for them.
We got to open one present on Christmas Eve and perhaps shake some others we would open the next morning.
I recall sneaking down the stairs Christmas morning and sitting happily there beside the tree until everyone else got up. Finally mom would announce it was time to open our presents and we all took turns to show them off. Of course, we carefully unwrapped each one to preserve the colorful paper intact for reuse another time. I can’t recall every actually using any of it in future years, however.
On of my first toys was a duck that was pulled by a string and its tail clapped a tiny bell that went, “ding.” But my best gift was a handmade costume of Batman and a dark blue cape.
It could also double, kinda, as a Superman costume and I would fly off the roof of our small utility shed. Landing was a problem however, so takeoffs from the roof were few.
The smell of fresh pine needles, Christmas lights, and singing Christmas carols as we held hands were what I recall with a tear. And thinking of those days and how happy we all were is both wonderful and sad at the same time. My parents are gone and so is my oldest brother. We are all living in separate states and rarely see each other nowadays.
E-mail and telephone calls are the trappings of families that grow up and move apart, it seems.
I wish…well I wish each of you to have the same memory of a wonderful holiday that warms your nights down through the years.
When I was six years old all I wanted for Christmas was a purse made by my Uncle Bill.
At the time, he worked with leather and I wanted him to make me a purse.
I didn’t want anything else, I just wanted him to make me the purse because he was my “dad that I never had.”
We woke up Christmas morning and opened all our presents. As my presents started to dwindle down I began to get really disappointed because every present I opened wasn’t the purse.
My Tia (Aunt) Carmen had bought me a China set that was real china and I was really happy to get that, but it still wasn’t my purse.
They asked me why I looked upset and I told them that I hadn’t received the gift I really wanted. They then went on to teach me the “You don’t always get what you want” lesson.
They then said there was one more present underneath the Christmas tree and it was for me.
I really did not want the present because it was a big box and I knew my purse would not be put in a that big box.
I opened it up to find a smaller box inside and in that box was my purse. It was brown and had Bambi and my name on it.
I still have that purse to this day and the reason it is so special is because my Uncle Bill made it.