Last year my dad shared his Christmas memories with us. I’m excited my mom Frieda has taken the time to share her memories of Christmas when she was a child in Dallas and on the mission field in Central America. You’re in for a treat! Her words below:
Until I was ten years old my family lived in Dallas, Texas. My dad was pastor of a small bilingual mission church in South Dallas, and we had very little money. When I was ten our family moved to Central America to be missionaries. Our Christmases were meaningful and memorable wherever we were.
For some reason my parents didn’t believe in Christmas trees when I was a kid, so we never had one. However, my sister, my brother, and I hung our “stockings” (actually knee socks) in the living room. Each had a chair in his or her corner. On Christmas morning, we would rush to our chair to see our presents. Our “stocking” would be filled with walnuts, pecans and candy, and sometimes an orange. We would get one “big” present each, and as well as some practical items such as socks, underwear, a comb, a toothbrush. Besides that we would have various small presents to unwrap from some of the ladies at church. I remember one year my little brother got a Snoopy dog which growled as you pulled it along. Another Christmas when he was a little older, he got a red wagon.
My sister and I usually got a doll. When I was about five we got rubber Betsy-Wetsy dolls. They came with a diaper and a bottle complete with rubber nipple. I noted that they wet out their back instead of the usual place, but I certainly wasn’t traumatized by that as some women report having been. (I read a lot of feminist literature when I was teaching at the university.) Eventually we lost the bottles, so the dolls were not much fun anymore.
The next year we got “little girl” dolls instead of baby dolls. These dolls had moveable legs and arms, but the eyes and hair were painted on. After playing with mine a few days, I forgot her outside in the yard. I must not have been too thrilled with her because I didn’t remember until days later, and when I looked for her, she had disappeared. I guess my sister lost hers too, and we forgot all about them. The next Christmas we were thrilled to get dolls with hair. I kept thinking there was something vaguely familiar about my doll, and a few days later, I asked Mother about her. She admitted she had put up the dolls from the year before since we didn’t seem to like them very much, and for this Christmas she had made new clothes and bought wigs, which she glued on. I thought she was really clever and was thrilled with my recycled doll.
When I was eight, I was dreaming of another “little girl” doll with a short dress and curls like Shirley Temple. Instead I got a baby doll like I had never seen before. She had a hard head, hands, and feet but a cloth body, so she was floppy like a real baby. She had a squinched up little face like a real new born. I thought she was extremely ugly, but I could tell Mother was thrilled with her, so I pretended to like her.
One Christmas Eve my parents actually bought our Christmas presents after we went to sleep (It wasn’t considered dangerous to leave kids by themselves for awhile back then.) I knew they had been out because I woke up when they came in. But they let us think they didn’t ever buy them ahead of time. I’m sure that was so we wouldn’t be searching for our presents. We lived in three rooms of a duplex, and there weren’t a lot of hiding places.
When I was about nine years old, my present was a pair of skates. They had a strap around the ankle, and you tightened the front of the skates over your shoes with a key to hold them on. If you lost the key, the skates were unusable. I remember rushing home from school in the afternoons to skate up and down the sidewalk in front of our house. The sidewalk had a big crack in it, and one day I stumbled and cut a gash in my forehead. We didn’t have a car, but a friend of my parents happened to drive up right then, and she took me to the hospital to get stitches in my forehead.
We were not taught to believe in Santa Claus. Our parents instructed us not to clue in the neighbor kids, but I’m pretty sure we tried anyway. One year my piano teacher gave me the sheet music for a new song, “Santa Claus Is Coming to Town.” (I still have the sheet music.) I liked the tune but was worried my parents would not want me to play a song about Santa Claus. However, when I showed it to Mother, she told me there was nothing wrong with playing and singing the song as long as I knew Santa Claus was “just pretend.” When my little brother David was about five, my mother let him join the line in Titches Department Store to sit on Santa’s lap. When the Santa asked David what he wanted for Christmas, David said, “You’re not real.” The poor Santa rushed him down off his lap before the next child took notice.
Click here to continue reading>>> Family Christmases Part 2