When I was a little girl we didn’t go to the store and buy Christmas Stocking we would use our stockings that we wore everyday, you know the tan ones that came way up so on your thigh and hang them on the mantel. If we didn’t have a fireplace one particular year mom would give us pins and we would pin our stockings on a chair or the back of the couch that year.
We could expect a cookie with sugar sprinkles, a bright orange an apple and some nuts. If we were very good we would get a piece of home made taffy that our mother made. She had a pretty bowl and she would cut up fruit and fill that bowl with it. It was only used during very special times. She would cook up a big fat chicken and save its feathers for our pillows. There were sweet potatoes from our garden and green beans canned from that year with our own sweet onions.
There were pies on the sideboard waiting for little girls to taste them and relish in the beauty of their sweetness. It was such a good time. We would laugh and sing and talk. We girls were always together for Christmas. It was not like it is now, it was not about going into the poor house for Christmas. No, we didn’t have much, but mom made sure we all got something for Christmas and we never felt like we did without. Mom would crochet and she made us beautiful dresses, and when we grew out of them she would add pieces and make it fit us or a younger sister would get the dress.
I remember my shoes had a hole in them in the sole and it was cold and I had to walk to school so my sister put a piece of cardboard in the shoe to help me make them last a while longer until one of my sisters grew out of their shoes. One year I remember I got a beautiful Shirley Temple doll. It was more than I could ever imagine getting for Christmas. I loved that doll and took her everywhere with me until a neighborhood dog chased me and when I jumped up to get away from it I broke her. It broke my heart.
Our grandparents lived on farms and so did my aunt and uncle. Someone would bring a big car or one of the farm wagons over and pick us up and the grownups would be gathered at our aunt and uncles house. They had beautifully decorated the barn and there were tables of wood set end to end with such wonderful foods. There was mulled cider, and pies, there were cakes with white icing and sugar sprinkled on top, there was chicken and ham and fresh baked bread and rolls… oh the food! The adults would come and bring wooden planks and lay them on the barn floor side by side until there was a great wooden floor.
We children would have so much fun playing in the hay and playing. But we were good children, we didn’t run around or get into trouble because our mother’s told us to behave when they left us to work. So we would make lovely dolls with the straw and we would play so sweetly with the other children. Soon people came with musical instruments and they would begin to play and the grown ups would smile and laugh.
The men would swing the women round and round the floor and they had so much fun! We would sit and clap in time and watch the fun for hours waiting for that fine food. Too soon our eyes would get heavy and we would lay back in that sweet hay for just a little rest, only to wake up in our own home the next morning and none of those lovely treats were enjoyed by us little ones.
Momma died though when I was 8 just before Christmas. She got pneumonia that winter and never recovered. My sweet momma. My sister worked so hard to make Christmas the same for us. She worked so hard to keep us together and to do fun things. Even after my sisters grew up and moved away she was the glue that held us together. She promised momma you know, that she would keep us together and keep us safe. She did. That is the most beautiful gift of all. The gift of family and love and putting one another first.