The excitement of Christmas Eve, the hanging up of a stocking so that Santa could fill it with all kinds of good things that we didn’t get very often throughout the year, the placing of a snack for Santa and the fascination with the Christmas tree all lit up- Christmases of long ago were happy times for children.
Of course we wrote a letter to Santa but I don’t remember ever getting an answer, like the children get now. We would do it in our best printing or writing, not on a computer, and we would ask for only one or two items. And they didn’t cost very much. I remember asking for a watch and a book, or a doll and a game. I don’t remember much about what I received, but I know what some of my friends got, because I certainly wanted their presents. Doris and Maureen Bishop got a little stove with all the pots and pans, all miniature but made of cast iron and it was so much fun to play with all the pieces.
It didn’t matter what size of a stocking you hung up, for you were only getting the same as everyone else in the family. The treats consisted of an apple, an orange, a handful of hard candy wrapped up in brown paper, some nuts, a chocolate bar and some grapes. If we were really lucky, we would get a can of pop. We couldn’t wait to get up to get hold of that stocking and we relished in eating everything in it. No one dared lay it down out of sight as someone might mistake it for his or hers.
I don’t remember the gifts being wrapped but we treasured whatever it was and accepted whatever it was gratefully. There were no sad faces on Christmas morning, not in my memories at least. But I don’t remember getting many gifts. My aunts used to send us a parcel with Avon in it and we loved even the smallest item. I don’t remember worrying too much about getting or giving gifts,except for what Santa brought. And I remember the first Christmas that I helped my mother place the gifts under the tree and felt so diappointed that my belief in Santa had been changed forever.
One thing that stands out in my mind about Christmases of my childhood was the early rises. We were so anxious and excited that we awoke around 3 or 4 in the morning, and sneaked out to see if Santa had been there. I remember waking Mom up to come out with us, as we didn’t want to start finding our presents without Mom being there. Now that I think of it, perhaps she’s the only one who knew who owned what, in a family of eleven.
Going to midnight mass stands out in my memories. It wouldn’t be Christmas if we didn’t get dressed up and go out to the church to see the nativity scene and the way the church was decorated, and of course, participate in the mass. I remember as a teenager getting told off because I decided to stay in and watch Mrs. Bonia’s bread for her so she could go to mass. Dad wasn’t too impressed when I told a small lie to say I was there, and he knew I wasn’t! I didn’t try that again.
The fun of Christmas as we grew older was seeing all our friends and relatives who dropped by for a visit. There was only a small lot of liquor back then, but it was shared with the adults who came to see us. Mom has some fruit cake and a little drop of Purity syrup or wine for the ladies. It was a happy time, with some music being played while the lights were lit up on the tree and children played on the floor or in a bedroom or two. It was a happy time for one and all. Oh, the happy memories of Christmases of my childhood!