We always bought our Christmas tree a few days before Christmas and brought it in and decorated it on Christmas Eve. My father and I used all blue lights, balls of red, green, silver, blue, and gold, metal icicles, some special glass balls, and silver tinsel. The tinsel was never thrown on the tree, but arranged carefully, so that it could be saved again for the following year. The tree is beautiful even in my memory.
On Christmas morning I was allowed to open my stocking before church. I would find an orange, a candy cane, some packages of trading cards with kitties, dogs, horses, or art work, ball and jax, and a paddle with a ball attached with an elastic string.
Church was the most important part of the morning, and I loved seeing the Baby Jesus in the manger. The stained glass windows were adorned with fresh wreaths with red bows, and the whole church smelled of spruce, pine, and the outdoors.
When we got home, my mother would get the ham or turkey in the oven, and while it was cooking, we opened presents. Neighbors would stop by to exchange Christmas greetings and my older brother and sisters would come by too.
One year when times were hard, I remember receiving only a Roy Rogers and Dale Evans paper doll set and a pair of red corduroy slacks to wear under my dresses on the way to school. The most special thing that has stayed with me all these years is the memory of my mother washing and ironing all my dolls’ clothes and then having the dolls sit on top of the couch so they could be part of Christmas, too.
I learned then to value the old as well as the new. To me, Christmas meant family, church, good food, and kindness to others.