Kids are good at keeping secrets, if they are told it’s a secret. My mom was at a ladies’ gathering of some sort and I had gone off with a neighbor man for a bit. When he took me back to my mom, I proudly announced that he had shot a pheasant. I was young enough I didn’t know about hunting seasons, we lived in the country where wildlife was plentiful, we ate what was shot, and it wasn’t a big deal to me, just a fact. I was quickly hushed as it turned out it was not pheasant season. Nobody told me.
At a Christmas when times were hard and adults still tried to surprise their spouses, one day Mom and I went to town to run errands. One of the things we did was pick up a pair of dress pants for Dad. During the usual recitation of the day’s events with my dad, I mentioned picking up the pants from the western wear store. It was then I was informed they were to be my mom’s Christmas surprise for my dad. I felt so bad that I still remember it some 65 years later.
Back in the day, we received a box in the mail, an unusual occurrence at that time. I opened the box. Inside were pencils with my name and my brother’s names on them. I had spoiled another Christmas surprises that my mom had planned. Unopened boxes that arrive in November of December shouldn’t be opened by just anyone.
Looking back, I think adults conspired with each other and never told. Or perhaps they had discussions on the merits of an item, but didn’t expressly agree on gift giving. One year my grandma Fern Wyatt gave my mom and dad an electric blanket for Christmas. My mom and dad gave my grandma an electric blanket that same year. I never knew if it was by design or happenstance, yet I was in awe that it would happen like that.
Many hours were spent going over the Sears Christmas catalog. It was the nearest thing we had to a shopping mall in western South Dakota and what a fascinating way to dream. The pages that were especially interesting to me were the ones titled, “Under Five Dollars, Under 10 Dollars, and under 20 dollars.” I marked items, then scribbled the mark out when I found something even better. Though we didn’t expect to receive any of the marked things, we surely had fun looking.
Even now I enjoy browsing in catalogs, not so much for what I might buy but for the pleasure of seeing new gadgets. I often wonder why things were made. A well-known kitchen utensil company sells a metal cake tester for $9.50. It is about the same size in diameter as a toothpick and is used to poke into baked products to see if they are done. Me, I use an actual toothpick which I can use and throw away.
As you take some time for yourself during this busy time, think back and remember good times and the stories you can tell your family.