Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Our Last Christmas Together

Mother got remarried on February 15, 1947. My last Christmas with her and my sister was in 1946. We spent it with  Grandmother and Grandfather at the farm.

It was a Christmas fraught with anxiety. I was pretty sure that Santa would skip Grandmother's house because my 4-year-old sister and I had been so bad. We had kept Grandfather up every night for a week because of the noisy game we played after being put to bed. Every so often, we'd hear the swish-swish of Grandfather's slippers as he shuffled wearily up the hall from his bedroom. Subject to migraines and "face pains," he often went to bed early. "If you girls don't settle down," he'd call through the door, " I'll give you the heeby-jeebies." We had no idea what the heeby-jeebies were, but it was enough to quiet us down for awhile.  Before long, our noisy game would resume and we'd hear the swish-swish of his slippers again. Finally, he played his trump card: "If you girls don't go to sleep, I'll tell Santa not to come!' 

On Christmas morning, we stood at the top of the stairs staring doubtfully down at Grandfather in the hall below. 

"Well, aren't you coming down?" 

"Is there anything down there?"

"Come and see."

Down we went! Santa had come after all. The tall tree stood in the living room, with two of nearly everything underneath. Two dolls. Two sets of plastic dishes. Two sets of roller skates. Although there was only one doll house, my Meadville grandmother, whom I'd been living with since my parents separated, promised that I would have a doll house of my own.

The toy factories had not yet recovered from the war. The Betsy Wetsy dolls cracked apart at the seams after a few feedings. The doll house had come in the mail, unassembled. Years later, we learned that part of the house hadn't even been painted.  Aunt Jean, who was in art school, had to mix up some paints and finish the job.

The skates were the clamp-on kind that were tightened with a key. Before my mother and sister left for Florida, I brooded about that key. If Barbara took the key, how could I skate? When it was time for me to return to Meadville, I made sure that the key was hidden in my pocket. Sometimes I'd feel guilty, thinking of my sister in Florida, sitting forlornly on her porch steps with her skates and no key.  I'd quickly push that picture out of my mind.

Some years later, I got up enough nerve to ask her if she'd ever skated in Florida.

"Yes," she said. "Why?"


the sandwich life said...

Wonderful post forsythia! Merry Christmas to you!

Debra said...

I so remembered skating with the same kind of skates! I put my key on a shoe string and would tie it around my neck so it wouldn't get lost. Love these kind of stories. Hope you had a good Christmas and New Year! Blessings, Debra