And we all know that the Whitman's Sampler box in Mom's dresser drawer was a treasured possession in which she stored her most valuable possessions.
Our Christmas stockings were the first evidence of a Christmas miracle and, in some years, virtually most of the evidence of a Christmas miracle. But our stockings never ceased to charm and amaze us. Full of lovely things like an orange, some peanuts, ribbon and hard tack candy, unshelled nuts, and some times a little surprise of one kind or another. These things were so precious because we would never see any of these things any other time of the year, while today all of us keep most of these things continually in our pantries. We rationed the candy and the peanuts, saved the orange for a special moment, cracked a hard nut now and then, and squirreled the stocking away with its treasures for another magic moment.
There were elements of severe inequity, however, especially in our younger years, since the dear sisters all wore lovely and becoming long brown cotton stockings, while I had a short Rockford sock with a red heel. To rectify this egregious misallocation of Santa's loot, the much maligned Christmas event occurred when, wisely I thought, to even out all of these years of deprivation, I cut a hole in my sock and put the top lid of my typewriter case beneath it. For this, I, a good boy, was rewarded with a load of coal.
One reason why Christmas was so magic to us as young children was because Dad always came home for Christmas, though he had to be away so very much of the time trying to earn a few dollars here and there to keep his growing family in food and clothing. Dad brightened our lives, and usually managed to find a few other goodies somewhere to add to what Mother had already acquired.
I think, looking back over through the cloudy lens and tears of time, that Christmas for us was a transcendant feeling of awe, and expectation, and happiness. Because of this aura surrounding our humble abode when we were little, and surrounding our little tree with its scant paper and homemade decorations and tinsel that was saved from year to year, like birthday cake candles, I don't recall that we ever felt deprived on Christmas. What we felt was more important than what we got. And we received much love and caring from our parents and from each other. I know that our parents grieved to themselves about not being able, ever, to give us more abundant and expensive gifts, but they gave us all that they had and could give, which was more abundant than just enough.
And, by the way, Ann and Steve look deceptively innocent in the header photo. Beware.