Because my father was a shepherd and my mother was a registered nurse, there was not a whole lot of extra money around at Christmas.
Most of the time, we knew what we were going to get: winter coats that we ordered from the Sears catalog.
And our stockings were stuffed with an apple, an orange and some ribbon candy.
When we were little, my three sisters and I would take one of our toys and wrap it up for each other so we had something more to open up on Christmas Day. My mom hated that because we tended to use a lot of tape. That must be why I have so much tape in my house.
My grandparents would always bring us a lot of stuff. But sometimes my grandma got a little crazy. One year my older sister and I got pajamas, that were actually what would have been considered lingerie. I think she might have been shopping from the Fredrick’s of Hollywood catalog. My sister and I were both in our early teens and not even close to be well-endowed enough to fill out those “pajamas.”
She also bought us kitten-shaped salt and pepper shakers, that squeaked when you shook them. I don’t know if she realized they were salt and pepper shakers. We were only about 10 and 11 years old at the time and really didn’t know what to do with them. But my parents would always caution us to be grateful and not ask any questions or complain. We learned this the hard way when grandma made Kool-Aid and forgot to add the sugar. Just as I was ready to pipe up and tell her, my dad gave me a look that I’ll never forget, and I drank every drop of that Kool-Aid. She also made canned salmon sandwiches with chunks of butter that we would choke down as happily as we could.
But my grandparents also brought us toys, so we were always excited when they came over for Christmas. My parents seldom bought us toys, probably because we would eventually take them apart and my mother would be stuck picking up all the pieces.
And I don’t think we ever had a doll that didn’t lose its hair.
But it really didn’t matter what we got for Christmas, it was just fun to be with our grandparents, and sometimes our cousins would come for Christmas and we really had a ball.
We also loved to string popcorn and make paper chains for the Christmas tree. I still have a high heel covered in shell macaroni and painted gold that I made my mother for Christmas.
And we always went to church several times during the holidays.
So, I learned early it’s not the presents that make Christmas it’s family and the birth of Jesus. ❖