An Only Child’s Christmas
It wasn’t until I had more than one child myself that I understood why Santa had to wrap and tag the packages under the tree. As an only child, when I got up on Christmas morning and rushed to the living room, there, spread out under the tree and by the fireplace, was what can only be termed “an embarrassment of riches” – and all for me!
Thanks to the photos taken by my Uncle Sam (Colored slides later reproduced as prints), I can see the proof of this statement. Perhaps it is nowhere more evident than in the picture of Christmas, 1943, when I was five. There is my beloved doll, Diana Christine, dressed in a velvet cape with a hood edged in fur. She is sitting in a “baby buggy” (as my Dad called it) that was more elegant and sturdy than those intended for real babies. In the background you see ice skates (Think I used them twice.), a chalk board on an easel, and a complete set of “My Book House.” Those were just the major gifts! The next year pride of place went to the dollhouse lovingly and exactingly crafted by my Uncle Sam: a replica of my own house, complete with electric lights,
Over the years there were blocks, a toy farm, a top, games, always a dress, and always books. In 1946, there, in front of the tree you see a small sewing machine, a bathinette, a bassinet, and no less than five dolls, two of them large rag dolls made by my Aunt Florine. For you see this largesse came not just from my parents, my Aunt Dot and Uncle Sam, but also from my New Jersey aunts: Florine and Maude.
As if all this were not enough, on Christmas Eve I would hang two stockings, both mine, from the fireplace mantle. One was of traditional size, but one was huge, maybe 3 feet long, made by my Aunt Florine. The large stocking had to be propped up in a chair once it was filled to overflowing as they both were.
Sad to say, I was sassy, lippy, strong-willed – call it what you will. I was all that and more. I knew I shouldn’t act that way, but somehow, at home, I just couldn’t control myself . My father sometimes said I was his little “house devil – street angel.” As a result, the weeks leading up to Christmas put a great strain on me as I attempted to be the model child. I was probably six or seven the year that, having kept it together until I had examined the last gift, I breathed a huge sigh of relief and reverted to my obnoxious behavior. In the evening, my mother said, “You know, Dorothy, Santa comes around on Christmas night and takes back toys from naughty girls and boys.” Quickly I began gathering up as many toys as I could. I stuffed them under the bed covers and hopped into bed, lying there listening in fright for the sound of those reindeer hooves on the roof.
© Dorothy C. Judd
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