By Sharon M. Kennedy
Well, Christmas is over and I hope everybody’s happy. Did you all get everything you ordered from Santa? Did your dad get socks, a box of white handkerchiefs, and a bottle of Old Spice? Did your mom get a box of chocolates, a frilly apron, and a new iron? Did teenagers get pajamas, little girls get dolls, and little boys get toy soldiers?
You can see how far removed from reality I am. I’m recalling the 1950s when we bought Dad practical gifts because he always said he didn’t want anything. You can’t wrap that, so he got socks and underwear. Mom’s bottle of Evening in Paris cologne was a standard purchase. Gram was happy with a bag of pink peppermint candy. Jude received new barn boots and a subscription to Motion Picture magazine. Santa brought cowboy stuff to my brother. My gifts revolved around books and anything pertaining to dolls.
The days after Christmas were peaceful. Although Mom was terrified the tree would dry out, the bubble lights might overheat, and our house would burn to the ground, nothing tragic ever happened. Our tree was always in what we called the “far front room.” There wasn’t a remote possibility of the Jungers throwing heat into that room so it was the safest place to put the spruce tree.
I liked to curl up in the only comfortable chair we owned. As siblings, we devised a system. If we yelled “reserved” no one could grab that chair unless Mom wanted it. Dad’s chair was a straight-back one or the couch. My brother got the daybed, but I have no recollection where Jude perched. Anyway, I always liked looking at the Junger’s flame and watching “The Little Match Girl” on television. Seeing that pathetic child made me thankful for my dolls, my family, and all our animals.
The week between Christmas and New Year’s was a happy one. If the snow was good, we dragged our sleds down the road to the big hills. After a couple of hours, we were soaked through and walked home. Mom had hot chocolate waiting for us. Our wet mittens, jackets, and snow pants were tossed on the Jungers to dry. With our heavy socks on, we lay on the floor and thawed our frozen feet on the stove taking care not to burn ourselves.
Christmas carols on the radio, a kitchen warmed by the woodstove, a cat sleeping on Gram’s cot, and scratching our names on frosty window panes are fond memories. The house was calm and inviting. Our gifts remained underneath the tree and relatives stopped by to admire what they had given us.
Such were the days after Christmas when I was young.
Dad shoveled while we went sledding