Long Ago Christmas

I was a privileged child. I had no idea there was a depression on, or that my family had money problems.

True, we had moved all over from one relative's home to another in my 5 years, but we had finally settled down in Virginia where I went to school and took piano lessons. I was loved and I suppose pretty spoiled, the "only child."

It must have been my 8th Christmas. My mother took me shopping in Washington, and we were crossing the street between two big department stores. Hurrying people almost separated the two of us, but she held my hand tightly and as we started in one door behind the Salvation Army Santa I stooped down to pick up a pack of chewing gum.

Mother said the usual, and I knew better than to pick up dirty trash from the ground, but how exciting it would be to have a whole 5 pieces of gum, from a brand-new green package! And inside the door, scurrying up the aisle between all the Christmas decorations, I opened my fist and found a five dollar bill.

Five dollars! All my own, to spend any way I pleased!

What did I want most?
I think that was the year of the Shirley Temple doll craze, and that's what I wanted most. I didn't know how much Shirley cost, and Santa couldn't afford it so we never found out.

My mother got a new nightgown and my father got a pair of pajamas for Christmas.

And that's one of my childhood Christmases in my memory. Other years and memories have disappeared but that one remains vivid, the year I had all the money to spend, to buy whatever was precious to me, and I bought gifts for the most precious people in my life.

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