Christmas Past

Looking at this old photograph of me, my siblings, and paternal grandmother makes me long for a time when Christmas and all other holidays were much simpler and less hectic.

Don’t get me wrong, I love wrapping presents and watching my children and grandchildren’s eyes light up when they hold that special gift in their hands. But there are times when I long for a less commercial and more meaningful celebration.

Christmas early 60s

This old photograph is dated by the decor, clothes, and the Christmas tree. We, the Ross family, weren’t affluent by any means.

I’m pretty sure that tree was a cedar and came from our pasture. Mom loved tinsel and did her best to make the humble tree festive.

I remember that little sewing machine well. That, and the doll to my left were the two things that were the big-ticket items for that year…1950-something!

That was pretty much the way things worked in our house at Christmas. We asked for the one thing we’d pined for all year, and we usually got it. And maybe a second present made its way under the tree as well, if it was a good year for my folks.

Grandma may have pitched in, I can’t remember.

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The doll was a much sought after wedding doll that most girls my age wanted. The Sears catalog pictured dozens of dolls that made my mouth water. In those days, the walking dolls were quite desirable. Although their walking looked more like a stiff-leg zombie, it was wonderful in the eyes of a ten-year old girl.

I married the old girl off many times to other dolls, teddy bears, and a Popeye doll, once! I found her in my storeroom the other day. She’s a little, “Road hard and put-up wet!” as my dad would say, but she conjures up many fond memories.

One year, I wanted new ice skates. I had admired them in the Sears Christmas catalog all year and I’m pretty sure the page was marked and well-worn from tracing my fingers over the picture.

My wish was realized one Christmas Eve. I don’t know why, but we always opened our gifts on Christmas Eve.

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They were made of white leather and laced half-way up my shin. The shiny steel blades winked at me as I tore open the box. The smell of the leather and realization that I really held them in my hands was almost more than I could bear.

I pictured myself skating with athletic flare, swirling and twirling with the greatest of ease while a crowd of spectators cheered and clapped wildly. I would perform figure-eights and spirals effortlessly.

It was if I were born on the things.

I skated backwards and forwards and, sideways.

I was extraordinary…in my mind.

Of course, reality hit about the same time my bottom did…HARD… on the unforgiving ice, on our farm pond. My only audience was the cows, lazily chewing their cud. The bovines I’d have to milk later that day.

Dad would always check the thickness of the ice before he’d let us on it. It had to be at least a foot thick before he’d give his blessing.

I would skate until I couldn’t feel my feet or hands any longer. My wobbly legs soon held me up, and I became a fairly good skater. I can’t count the times I threw them, skates, over my shoulder and headed out with family or friends. It was a great activity.

I miss it!

My old skates hang in our car port now.

Yes, I still have them! I think they need a little TLC though. Maybe I should ask for a new pair!

I’d have to stuff my pants with pillows to soften the falls, however.

I don’t fall well these days … not like I used to.

Merry Christmas and blessings for the New Year!

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