I was a big fan of Santa. I believed that jolly old guy would deliver every year. I wrote him letters. The first one was apparently dictated to my mom. She sent it off to the North Pole, or so I thought she did. After my mom passed, I found many things she had saved over the years, of which two were letters I had written to Santa Claus.
I should have known that first Christmas as the age of 6, that Santa was sure to disappoint. The first item on my list was a Saucy Walker Doll. My sisters both had this type of doll, and I was envious of their beautiful dolls, so I requested one. I think I did receive one but it was a smaller version. Of course, I was a smaller version of my sisters back in those days.
The second item on the list was dishes. I am sure I received those, because I had a lot of play dishes, pots and pans, toy rolling pin, just everything a little girls in the mid 50’s would think her play kitchen should have.
I requested a bank, and got one that you couldn’t take the money out of until it reached $10. Do you know how long it takes to save up $10 in those days. It felt like forever. We figured out how to fool the totaling of the register to bring it to $10 way before that large sum of money was saved. There were important things I needed to buy, and I couldn’t wait for the $10 to accumulate.
The next item was a huge disappointment. Why on earth did Santa not bring me the requested “baby brother?” He didn’t even bring me a baby sister. What kind of Santa is that? I was going to name my brother Charles. I don’t know why—there wasn’t a single Charles on either side of our families. I think it was a sturdy name—maybe I was aware at age 6, that Queen Elizabeth had a little boy the same age as me by the name Charles. What made me think I could name my brother anyway? Charles, or whatever his name could be, never arrived under our tree or anywhere in our house. I was the end of child making in this family.
The doll buggy and doll bed sound like something I got. As you also see, I was into properly dressing my dolls also by requesting doll clothes, skates, and shoes. I loved all my dolls, and I loved dressing them up. I spent a lot of my time “playing house” and loved pretending to be a mother. By the way, I never got a ballerina doll either.
I made a good try at age 6 to writing my first name in cursive, a lost art today. My last name apparently was a bit more difficult to do in cursive. It is good to know that I promised to be a good girl and mind “my mother and daddy.” I was a very compliant child, and took this part of my job seriously.
So then a year later, I learned to write, and apparently I found a toy catalog, probably a Sears Roebuck, or maybe a J.C. Penney. My writing is quite primitive, but I sure could copy names of toys that I saw, as I am sure that those descriptions would not be how I would have stated the item.
I am amazed at how demanding I was with the jolly old fellow. I just went straight to the point. I didn’t promise to be a good girl, I didn’t start with a nice introduction—I just told the man what I wanted for Christmas. I noticed, though, that I didn’t bother to sign the letter. How did Santa know who to deliver the goods to? As I think about it, I am not sure I got all those or any of those things. That could be why—Santa didn’t know who wrote this note, or maybe he wasn’t happy that I had not promised to be a good girl.
I believed in Santa for a long time—probably much longer than kids today. One year I went shopping with my mom. I was always with her. She bought some stuff and I never thought anything about it, until on Christmas morning. When my sister opened her much coveted paint by number oil painting set, a light bulb turned on in my brain. I remembered my mom buying that when I was with her! The magic was gone!
Do you remember Christmas Club accounts at the bank? You put a certain amount of money into the account every week, and the first of December, the bank closed out the account and gave you the money. One year my mom, got me an account. I don’t remember how much it was. It was pretty minimal, but at the end of the year, I had money to buy my family Christmas gifts, and I learned how fun it was to find the perfect gift for each person. I bought my mom a new metal canister set and my dad a light table for sorting his slides. I had some money left over and bought myself a pair of shoes, and wrapped the box and put it under the tree for myself—one can never get too many presents!
I loved Christmas. My dad was the resident Scrooge, so my mom took us girls out to find our Christmas tree. We could never purchase the tree before my birthday (December 16), so usually on the 17th we went tree shopping. Judy, the middle sister, would string the lights on the tree, and then we would pull out the glass bulbs and hang them. The final touch was always the tinsel on the tree. We thought the tree was beautiful. We would turn on the lights, put our Johnny Mathis Christmas album on the Magnavox stereo, and marvel at the tree and the beautiful holiday music. Those were good days—simple and fun. We had family dinners with aunts, uncles, and cousins. We went to church, and performed in the Sunday school Christmas programs. I even sang (yeah, can you believe that?) “We Three Kings” in a trio with two other little girls. Each of us got to sing one of the verses solo. My apologies goes out to those who may remember this performance!
Today, there are new traditions, and I hope my kids and grandkids have heartwarming memories of their Christmas celebrations as much as I do.
What were the traditions in your family? Do you have fond memories of these days, or were you from a household that Christmas was a chaotic time with stress and family disagreements? I am so grateful that our Christmas celebrations were wrapped with family love, and celebration of Christ’s birth.
We always went to my Lindley grandparents’ house for Christmas. By 1957, when the youngest cousin was born, there were 12 of us kids, and I’m not sure how thrilled Grandma was to have the whole troop in her house all at one time, but she always greeted us with a smile. We older kids played Sorry at the kitchen table or huddled in the back rooms talking, while the younger kids created mayhem. Oh, and we got a present from everybody. One year, one of my little cousins received five pairs of white gloves. It wasn’t the best system.
At home, we didn’t have Santa Claus because somebody clued me in when I was two years old. I would like to have gotten to believe for a few years, at least, but no dice. I am happy to say that my 9-year-old great niece still believes, so Santa makes deliveries at her house, my house, and her uncle’s house down in southwest Missouri. Miss Jacy makes out like a bandit.
I don’t think we ever had church services on Christmas unless it happened to be a Sunday, but the lead-up to Christmas was full of the usual carols and Christmas pageants. I think we even got to sing carols in school back then. Oddly enough, no one was offended. Oh, and we often took the bus downtown to see the decorated windows at Famous Barr. That was a cold treat, but fun, nevertheless. Those were the days.
Great memories. Actually, I don’t think we did church on Christmas either–our Sunday school program, that I sang in, I think was held on a Sunday evening before Christmas. We memorized religious Christmas poems to recite and sing Christmas songs! I loved going to Famous-Barr for Christmas–in fact, those two Santa photos are from Famous-Barr.
I really enjoyed reading your story. So sweet.
Thank you. I am so blessed that my mother saved these letters.
I love your remembrance. It took me back to the wonderful 1950’s.
Thanks! Does Christmas have the same magic for children today as it did for you and me? Merry Christmas to you and your family.