I was 15 months old when the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor and World War II began. That Christmas and the next four were difficult for America’s families. We had black out curtains and my mother saved bacon grease to make soap. Gas was rationed so families who lived far from one another either saved their ration stamps to spend Christmas with their families or they used the stamps to drive to work.
I was lucky. All of my family lived nearby in our little community in Oregon. I received homemade gifts from my mother, aunts and grandmothers. However, I was talking to my mother recently and she said that every Christmas I got a doll until I got the one. She said after that I never wanted another doll so she made new clothes for it, and those were my Christmas presents.
Except for a few treasured hand-me-downs, my brother and I made all the ornaments for our tree. Our Christmases were joyous occasions with our house filled with music, the aroma of good food cooking, and laughter.
My father worked in the shipyards to support the war effort because the army would not take him. He had a wife and two small children to support. My father made me a bracelet out of stainless steel while he worked in the shipyard. He gave it to me for Christmas when I was four years old. I still wear the bracelet every day.
Christmas used to start the day after Thanksgiving. Stores were closed evenings and Sundays. Christmas was not about how many gifts were received but about the joy of being together as a family.
I listened to the Cinnamon Bear every day after school, a fifteen minute radio program. It started the day after Thanksgiving and ran until Christmas Eve. It was about Judy and Jimmy and the Cinnamon Bear in search of the Silver Star for the top of the tree. My daughter has my granddaughters listen to it every year. I think she probably found a tape of it on EBay. It is a wonderful way to add excitement to Christmas.
Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer also came into being when I was a child. It was written in 1949 by Johnny Marks and made famous by the singer Gene Autry. Oh what a happy day it was when I could send away for my very own plastic Rudolph. These can still be found in some antique stores.
Let’s make this Christmas as joyous as we can and give a hand to those less fortunate. Your child does not need everything she sees advertised on TV. I know my granddaughters don’t. Even when children don’t get everything they think they want, Christmas is still their favorite holiday. They wait excitedly, thinking that Christmas is going to take forever to arrive, just as I did when I was a child. They wait with anticipation and wonder for the arrival of Santa Claus.
Blessings to all!