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The Way We Were INDEX 1  2  3
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David: A Christmas Gift from the Heart

My parents were very devout and opposed to letting us believe in Santa Claus.  They made it abundantly clear that it was a religious holiday. But we celebrated it with gusto just the same.  We just knew who brought the presents and the sacrifices they made sometimes to buy them.

We had a few Christmas ornaments used from year to year - various shaped glass balls, celluloid figures, and some dangly "tails" of feathers in various colors, fastened to strings with hooks on top, that would sway gracefully with the slightest air movement. One year I had a new kitten, a few months old at Christmas, who despite our moving them higher and higher on the tree, "killed" all those strange elongated birds that had invaded our house!

Daddy would always get permission from some farmer to cut down a tree, drag it through the snow to our car and tie it precariously on top.  Once fixed reasonably straight in our living room, our only extravagance was a new package of aluminum foil icicles, which we tried to salvage each year with limited success. I was all for throwing them onto the tree, but was forced to put them on one at a time. I always cheated that part, and put on three or four at a time. Mother popped lots of popcorn, and we munched on buttered (real butter) and salted popcorn while pricking our fingers stringing unseasoned kernels to wrap around the tree. I always was given a couple of packs of construction paper and a pot of white paste (which I couldn't resist tasting from time to time) to make colored paper chains, too. When Daddy put the angel on top the tree, I knew Christmas was really in process.

In the last days of school before Christmas vacation, we always made a gift for our parents - a plaster of Paris or clay dish, hand print, brooch or other item, or sometimes a pot holder.  We also made construction paper decorations for the classroom, and on the last day, we got to take our own down and bring them home to tape on windows or hang from light fixtures or doorways.

I was an only child until 8 years old when my brother was born. That made Christmas even more delightful, to see it through his eyes. He was a very sentimental and affectionate child and loved everything new and beautiful. For my birthday shortly before my brother's birth, I had been given a real Betsy-Wetsy type rubber baby doll, a financial sacrifice for my parents, but probably one that they thought would help prepare me for the baby's arrival (as if I'd never seen a baby before!) My poor Mother always insisted on giving me "girlie" things (like manicure sets to get me to stop biting my nails - fat chance!) and lacy, tucked, ruffled or otherwise decorated clothes which I messed up on tree branches, muddy banks, etc.  I never played with dolls although I had a stuffed rabbit I loved.  I take that back; I had several rag dolls and animals, and played hospital and operation on them, sometimes with tragic and fatal outcomes. I did the same from time to time with my new doll, who I named "David" after a wee cousin.

When my brother Nathan was a year old, my parents gave him a tiny teddy bear, which he cuddled and slept with. But on rare occasions when I brought my doll downstairs, his eyes would light up, and he'd reach for it and coo and beg.

My great-aunt had an enormous bag of "rags", actually new-cloth leftovers from sewing clothing, slipcovers, etc., which she would use to hook rag rugs. I found a beautiful piece of cinnamon-colored embossed satiny upholstery material, cut a blanket sized square and fringed the edges, got a large shoe box, and dressing David in his best baby clothing, complete with his little bottle, folded him into his blanket, sealed him into the shoebox, gift-wrapped it and addressed it to my less-than-2 year old brother Nathan. I put it under the tree the very night we finished decorating it. This had my parents scratching their heads for days, but I refused to tell them what it was.

I will never, never forget the look of delight on my brother's face when he opened that present! (Nor the look on my parents' faces.....) He cradled the doll, toddled over to his little Boston rocker, and rocked and cooed and cuddled and kissed.  This was by far his favorite gift.  I still almost feel like crying sometimes when I think of the joy I was able to give him. That was one of three of my all-time favorite Holiday seasons in my many years of life.

What was the favorite Christmas gift that gave to someone else! 

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