Our Family Scrapbook

When Christmas was magical. . .

Even on their limited budget, my parents made Christmas a magical event.

Originally posted on December 7, 2010 

Tiny Christmas Tree

When I was a little girl, my parents struggled to put food on the table and pay the rent on our teeny-tiny shoebox apartment. All of my clothes were hand-me-downs from relatives who were just as poor as we were. But I was just a kid, and I had no idea that we were poor.

Even on their limited budget, my parents made Christmas a magical event. Santa Claus found our little three-foot artificial tree every single year. Dad was always as excited as my brother and I were about Christmas, so much so, that we rarely made it to Christmas morning before opening our presents.

I can still see the presents wrapped in tissue paper–deep blue, bright green, red and white. There was no money for ribbons and bows, so each gift was adorned with holiday stickers. It was pretty much the same every Christmas–new pyjamas (usually made by my mother), underwear, colouring books and crayons, cut-out dolls and a new book or two. One year I got a new prayer book and rosary, which I proudly brought to Mass.

Photo: Dad opening his new electric shaver.
I was 10 years old on Christmas of 1958. I remember it specifically because I got my first-ever, brand-new-never-worn-by-anyone-else skirt. It was a “flared” skirt made of corduroy with a brown and beige swirly pattern. It was the ultimate gift! It must have been a very good year because my brother got a new plaid shirt, and Dad got a grey Perry Como sweater. I still have a photo of me, my dad, and my brother, all decked out in our new duds.

I wish that every kid could have an opportunity to experience the joy we got from those simple gifts. That wonderful feeling of snuggling up under clean sheets in my new Christmas pyjamas, with my new Trixie Belden book was just about the best thing ever. I wouldn’t trade those memories for all the cell phones, laptops, flat screen T.V.s and designer jeans on the planet.


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