Posted by: patwogan | December 5, 2010

Childhood Christmas Memories

This year is going difficult for a lot of people.  The economy is bad, many are unemployed or underemployed and yet the commercialism of Christmas continues unabated.  Children have expensive expectations as television touts the toys that merchants wish to unload on the holiday shopper.  Parents are made to feel they must not love their children if Santa doesn’t leave his whole bag full of stuff at their homes.  What a lot of pressure for a holiday that is supposed to be a Holy Day!

When I look back at Christmas past in my life, I remember two years particularly.  One was the year all of us cousins received a baby doll.  There were four of us girls and as the youngest, I got first choice of the dolls.  They were identical except for the colors of their dresses and bonnets.  We were at Grandma and Grandpa’s house.  After the evening Christmas meal was finished, the dishes were washed, and the house put back in order, only then were we allowed to open the drapes to the parlor and see the decorated Christmas tree .  The tree was a cedar tree that had been brought in from the pasture earlier in the day and decorated by the adults who were not involved with making the Christmas dinner.  The wrapped presents were under the tree…except for the dolls…they were in the branches of the tree.  I was three or four years old at the time, and I still, believe it or not, have a mind picture of that tree and those four dolls.  I chose the one dressed in yellow.  I do not remember anything else about that Christmas.  I don’t know what Santa brought to my house, if anything.  I only remember those dolls.  Many years later, I was told that Uncle Leo and Aunt Jean were responsible for the dolls.

Another Christmas I remember was the year that Montgomery Ward introduced Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer.  We went to the local Montgomery Ward store and were given a book containing the story of Santa’s new reindeer.  I vaguely remember that Santa was in attendance and handed out the books in the basement of the local store.

When I was twelve, I wanted a bride doll.  I had picked out one from the catalog and hinted about it a lot.  I got a kind of raggedy ann doll instead.  I remember the disappointment, but lived through it. I know now that my parents couldn’t afford a fancy bride doll, and the raggedy doll was the best they could do that year.

Today television lets children know what the most wanted toys should be.  It really was not much different when I was growing up as Sears and Montgomery Ward both put out Toy Catalogs.  These catalogs were full of toys of all kinds.  One of the games my cousin and I liked to play was to go through the catalog and pick a toy from each page.  We made our lists for Santa by looking in the catalog.  We never got everything on the list and , in fact, we got very few of the things….usually one major gift…and by major, I don’t mean expensive.  Sometimes a gift might be something someone had made for us.  It was also something we needed.  I do remember that every year there was a really big orange in my sock and usually some nuts and candy.  I loved the really big orange as that was the only time in the year that we had them.

I do remember getting roller skates one year.  They were metal, with metal wheels and clamps that attached them to shoes.  These skates were held on by tightening the clamps with a skate key.  I also remember getting a red bicycle one year.  This was during the war and the only bicycle available was a boy’s bike.  I learned to ride it with difficulty as it was really too big.  Lots of skinned knees from falling over learning to ride.  It was a 26 inch bike and the only one I ever had.  It lasted forever!

Christmas is important to children.  It is also important to parents.  Hopefully, the pressure  of the economy won’t diminish the joy of the holiday this year.  We have all had times when we couldn’t afford to do what we really wanted to do at Christmas. By being creative, maybe we can all make this year a Merry one and one when the joy of the season and what it really stands for will take the forefront of our celebration!  Merry Christmas to all!

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