Thursday, May 26, 2022
May 26, 2022

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Everybody Has a Story: Christmas memory rich in happiness

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Many years ago, on Christmas Eve, I don’t even remember eating our evening meal. All I remember is getting dressed up for Christmas. I was so excited.

If my memory is correct, there were only three of us kids in the family then. Mom and Dad sent us out to the car to wait for them. We were going to Grandpa and Grandma’s house for a Christmas gathering with aunts and uncles.

I remember the golden glow of my grandparents’ living room, the Christmas tree decorated with shiny ornaments, and all of us relaxing and listening to Christmas carols. That memory is of a perfect family Christmas.

After Grandpa and Grandma’s, we hopped back in our purplish-blue ’48 Dodge, the trunk loaded with gifts, and headed for the 11 p.m. service at church in Hockinson. The Christmas carols were lovely. The special story of our savior’s birth would stay in my memory for all these years — more than 70. When the service was over, we went to Mom’s sister’s family and dropped off presents, opened presents and enjoyed their Christmas lights and festivities.

We hopped back in the car, now for the fourth time, and went to Mom’s brother’s family. Again what wonderful decorations, lights and presents. I couldn’t believe how our families could afford gifts for so many people. In the eyes of a child, it looked like a huge amount.

It was the 1950s, and I know we weren’t wealthy. I guess we managed by making our own gifts and I know that Mom was a bargain shopper who probably bought items at sales all year long. I do remember the gifts we received were small, but cherished: mittens, a tiny coin purse or inexpensive jewelry.

We got back in the car for the last time and finally went home. It was around 3 or 4 a.m. when we dragged ourselves into the house. “When, what to my wondering eyes should appear?” Our Christmas tree with tons of presents. Now remember, we were just little kids. Santa had come while we were gone!

How did that happen? It happened every year, and it took me quite a while to figure it out. I must have been a little dense. I think I was in my late teens before I figured out how Santa got in our house — or maybe I just loved the mystery of it all. We did not have a fireplace.

Here is the solution to my magical mystery. When Mom and Dad sent us to the car the first time, we were told not to come back in the house. They said they would be right out. We were obedient, of course. All that long time waiting in the car, Mom and Dad were scrambling to get the presents under the tree.

We were not wealthy, but our evening started by singing Christmas carols, visiting family and honoring the birth of Jesus. We were blessed to have parents who showed us the true meaning of Christmas.


Everybody Has a Story welcomes nonfiction contributions, 1,000 words maximum, and relevant photographs. Send to: neighbors@columbian.com or P.O. Box 180, Vancouver WA, 98666. Call “Everybody Has an Editor” Scott Hewitt, 360-735-4525, with questions.

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