Christmas on 9th West

Christmas was always a exciting time on 9th west. It was fun to visit each home to oh and aw over each families Christmas Tree. Some trees were works of art; some were filled with homemade decorations. Ours was usually a combination of home made decorations and some old cherished decorations that we used year after year. Every year one or two of these would get broken and it was always sad when that happened. One year after we had moved into our new house we had decorated our tree as usual, we had our Christmas Eve program and then we all went to bed. When we got up in the morning the tree was behind a door and Dad went in to turn on the lights and opened the door. We all just stood there stunned, our tree had been transformed into a beautiful White Flocked tree full of Red lights and Gold bulbs. It was absolutely beautiful. Mother and Dad must have spent most of the night taking down the old tree and replacing  it with the new one. I think all of us remember that Christmas as one of the best.

My earliest memories of Christmas would be when we lived in Aunt Inez’s house. We would have a nice dinner on Christmas Eve and then sometimes we would act out the Christmas story or Dad would read from the Bible. We always begged to open just one present. At some point Mom and Dad started putting a small present under our pillows that we would find when we went to bed. I don’t know how they did it. They were really sneaky. I never caught them. It was magical. Sometimes we would go singing to the neighbors, or Dad would load us into the car and we would drive around town looking at the Christmas lights on the houses. There was one street in town that almost every house on the street was decorated to the max. The radio would be on and the news man would announce that Santa had been spotted by radar over the northern United States headed West. We knew it was time to get to bed. Santa could not come if you were still up.

Sleep seemed never to come. I remember listening to Bing Crosby and Rosemary Clooney singing Christmas songs on the radio. How do you describe the ache and anxiety you feel wondering if your wants and desires will be fulfilled in the magic of the morning. We girls could almost always count on a new dress made by my Mother after many late night hours. New Sunday shoes would almost always be there too. One of the gifts I remember the most was a little electric stove. Not one of those magic easy bake ovens that work with a light bulb. But a real stove with real burners on the top and a real oven. It came with cookware and baking pans and boxes of cake mixes and cookie mixes. I was not feeling well that Christmas and my sisters made chicken noodle soup for me on my little stove. I had a lot of fun with that stove. I remember baking cakes and I would get hunks of cheese and melt it in one of the pans and eating it with pieces of bread. When Mother made a cake she would let me have some of the batter and I would bake it in my little oven.

Another Christmas Mother spent many late night hours making a dolls wardrobe for me. There were pants, dresses, a coat, night gown, and a wedding dress complete with veil. They were beautiful. They fit the doll beautifully, but they also fit the cat. My Mother about died when she saw the cat running across the lawn wearing the wedding gown complete with veil.

It felt like I never went to sleep and that morning would never come. We would take turns going down the hall to my parents room. “Can we get up yet,” “No go back to bed.”

“Can we get up Yet,” “No! go back to bed.” Finally the “yes” would come. We had to get dressed and then we had to have some breakfast. Dad had covered the doorways with sheets so we couldn’t see into the living room or the tree. We would line up at the doorway and Dad would go inside and turn on the Christmas tree lights and start a Christmas record on the phonograph. Then we could go inside. I remember being so excited that you could hardly breath. Everything was so beautiful in the lights of the Christmas tree. The music was soft and you spoke in soft voices. Sitting around the tree as Dad handed out gifts one at a time.

It seems like we were always the first ones up on our little street. We would be all done with our gifts and then we would have to wait to go visiting until everyone else was up. Several years later Aunt Inez would make breakfest for everyone and after we had opened presents we would go over to her house and she would serve us ham and eggs. Good times, pleasant memories.