Mary Elizabeth’s Memories of Early Christmases
(Taken from a Christmas program tape-1982)
I remember a Christmas when there were only four of us children. There was Freddie, Jimmy, Charles and me. We lived in a house in the country out from Greensboro. The house had only three rooms. It was heated by a fireplace. On that Christmas there were four chairs lined up in front of the fireplace. There was no Christmas tree. On Christmas morning the boys, Jimmy and Charles, each received a little metal car. The girls, Freddie and myself, each received a doll cradle with a doll in it. The dolls were covered with little blankets that our mother had made. We also each received a pair of long johns. We tried them on in front of the fire, laughing with delight. But the best surprise was a little thing called shoe polish. Our mother had cleaned up our old shoes, possibly our only shoes. Looking almost as good as new, our shoes were sitting in the middle of each of our Christmas chairs. We thought this was a wonderful thing. We were happy with little things. We didn’t mind, or possibly didn’t notice that there was no Christmas tree. We also didn’t notice that our parents had no gifts. I do remember the twinkle in Daddy’s eyes over our delight in the doll cradles he had made for us. Mother laughed with us over the newly polished shoes.
Music was a great part of our lives, and still is. Our Mother and Daddy both loved music, and both were good singers. Music often filled our house at Christmas or just about any time. In times of trouble or sorrow it filled a big gap in our lives.
I remember another Christmas, during the Great Depression. At this time we lived in Rutherford County. We had no TV, of course, and no radio either. The weather turned very cold just before Christmas and the sky was dark, threatening snow. One evening a car pulled up in our yard. The car radio was on. The music flowed up to the house where we were standing on the porch. “Silent Night” filled the air. I noticed my mothers eyes fill with tears. Who knows how she felt. She was fairly young. She came from a home that always had plenty for Christmas. Now, for her and Daddy it was a struggle just to provide the necessities. We had a real tree that year. It was covered with paper chains we had made while sitting around the kitchen table. There was holly on the mantle and hard candy in a bowl. Just before Christmas a large box arrived for us in the mall. It was from our grandmother Hollady in Greensboro. Grandma was a wonderful seamstress. She could take one of Papa Hollady’s old suits and cut it down to make a suit for a little boy. She could take a coat and refashion it to make coats for two little girls to wear to school. These were the items in the box we received. Grandma didn’t know it, but that box was our Christmas that year.