WINDOWS TO CHRISTMAS
HOLIDAY EDITION 2
I guess it was Christmas of 1957 when I received the train set. My main (and probably only) gift that year was a huge train set. There were what seemed like miles of track on the 4′ X 8′ table. The layout consisted of two levels and many twists and turns. There was a working station, a work crew car (my favorite) that reversed direction when it came to the end of the line. There were switches and controls to delight any aficionado. But… I was a mere girl of only seven. The men (my loving uncles) did not think a girl of seven (or any age for that matter) could properly handle all those controls. They took over the set, taking turns among themselves but totally ignoring the owner of the railway! I crawled under the layout table and cried. Then I began to think about how I could regain control of the train set. I hit upon the perfect solution and promptly set about enacting it. I came out of my cave and stood patiently at one corner of the table. Then I did a very brave (or very stupid) thing. As the train travelled down the hill towards me, I reached out and snatched the locomotive off the track just as it rounded the bend. I walked out of the room thinking that if I could not play with MY toys, no one would!
I must have made my point because not only did I not get punished for the action, my uncles thereafter asked permission to man the controls. And it became a household rule that no one could operate the train without having cleared it with me.
As I look back to other years
I see one evening very clear:
Christmas Eve it must have been
And it had snowed once again.
Walking home from church that night
My eyes beheld an awesome sight.
For in the bright though pale moonlight
The soft newfallen Christmas snow<
Sparkled like diamonds all aglow.
I continued to walk, now very slow
Looking around, both high and low;
So that I could this mem’ry store
Away inside to recall once more
As I remember other years.
It was my son’s fifth Christmas, so the year was 1978. I had knit a small stocking for the church’s Christmas Bazaar. Using the same pattern but thicker yarn and larger needles, I made one for my son. I followed the directions to the letter and wound up with a lovely stocking that was two and a half feet long and nearly as big as my son.
We took this monumental stocking to my mother’s that Christmas. My nephew saw it and was struck by how much booty could fit in such a monstrous stocking. He requested that one be made for him for the following year. This was promised. Though the stocking was made and mailed to him from New Hampshire, I don’t think he ever realized his dream of finding it full to overflowing on Christmas morning!
MY FIRST GIFT
I can still see it: this little head barely reaching the top of the check-out counter. Then I could look no more. You see, that unseen head belonged to my son, age four and a half. He had taken his own money (after a quick lesson in how to read the price tag) and gone in search of the perfect gift for Mommy. He knew exactly what he wanted and where it was in the store. So unescorted (“I’m a big boy, Mommy!”) he went to get it. I was under orders not to peek, so when he returned to the check-out with his hands behind his back, I turned away. He paid for it then joined my friend and me to go home. With a satisfied grin, he handed me the bag and said, “Wrap it for me, Mommy.” On the drive home I wondered how I would accomplish this without knowing what it was. At home, after only one question (“Is it breakable?” “Of course not!”) I made a bag out of wrapping paper, dropped his bag into it and had him tape it shut.
His gift? A skein of yarn that I knit into a very special hat for Mommy!
One special friend tried every year to find a perfect for me gift. In 1989 she found THE perfect gift for me: a Christmas mug with roses on it (I collect both mugs and things with roses on them). 1989 was the only year we were able to exchange gifts before Christmas. As she was filling the mug with candies and wrapping it in red cellophane and ribbons, she told me the following tale.
The mug she was wrapping had been part of a set of four found at a gift shop the week before. The order had just arrived and was not fully unpacked. She spoke with the manager and they looked for the other three. All they found was the one mug and the box for the set. She bought the one mug (just in case) and left her name and number with the manager. I still only have the one mug as the rest were never found. But that’s okay by me because now I don’t have to share my special mug with anyone!