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Carol Perkins: Christmas in the 1950's, part II

Missed the first part? Click here to read: Christmas in the 1950's, part I

By Carol Perkins

After Daddy cut the tree, placed it in a bucket of rocks, and positioned it in front of the double window in the living room, Mama, Henry (my brother) and I decorated it. Then Henry and I waited, night after night and day after day, for presents to appear under the tree.

I wrapped presents for my friends at school and placed them under the tree. We drew names at my grandmother's house, so those presents were there, but nothing with my name on it. Only Santa brought gifts and waiting was hard. Each night, my brother and I quietly talked across our twin beds about what we thought we might get. We had scanned the Sears Wishbook to do just that (wish) but Santa didn't send things through the mail.

In the meantime, we went to my grandmother Reece's house on Christmas Eve, along with dozens of sons, daughters, spouses, cousins and my uncle Frank (whose land we got the tree each year). My grandmother bought everyone a gift and often my mother took her shopping (and I went to help) to make those purchases. Big trucks for boys and dolls for girls. As we aged, we got sweaters (or some piece of clothing). She didn't skimp on Christmas gifts. My grandpa always received cans of Prince Albert from all of us!

That tradition ended when my grandmother died in 1983. We tried going back (my uncle lived there) but it wasn't the same. My grown children will always say that was one of the best parts of Christmas. It was the only time all their cousins and they were together.

Once home, Henry and I wasted on time getting to bed, although sleeping was hard because we kept hearing reindeer on the roof. One Christmas we couldn't believe what we saw! All over the living room floor were ashes from the wood stove. The stove pipe going into the flu was pulled loose and furniture turned upside down. (Santa must have had too much eggnog!) We were mesmerized! If we had any doubt about the jolly fellow, it vanished.

Our gifts from Santa were always special, but I particularly remember my Gerber baby doll (I still have it) and a pink quilted housecoat that I wore until the sleeves came up to my elbow. My parents always bought for each other, so we couldn't wait to see what Daddy had bought Mama. (I already knew his gift.) One year, she got a watch that he picked out at Nunn Drugs (they had beautiful watches). Another year, he bought a matching necklace and earrings of that popular glass looking material that changed colors with the light. I now have those. Christmas at the Sullivan house was the best of times.

As Christmas approaches try to make it the Best of Times for your family while focusing on the reason we celebrate in the first place. Without the birth of Jesus, this would be just another day.

Copies of Edmonton 1940-2018 are available on Amazon and many places around Edmonton and the county.

This story was posted on 2018-12-13 08:42:17
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