General Non-Fiction posted December 9, 2019

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No Christmas?

The Christmas of Near Despair

by Sally Law

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My mother heralded Christmas with announcements usually related to our financial gains and losses for the year.

We all knew it had to be bad when she delivered the humbug package in tears.

"There is no money this year for stockings, presents, or a tree."

Even a turkey seemed to be out of the question.

As the perpetual optimist, I was the first to speak up. "Ma, don't worry, everything will be fine. Santa Claus knows we've had some troubles."

It was during this time that I learned the awful truth--my parents had been masquerading as Santa all these years.

My mother had a heart of gold, and the stinging reality of no presents at this giving time of year was killing her. She loved nothing more than Christmas, and to give gifts that brought delight and surprise was the highlight of her year. She had scrimped and saved for months, with clothes and toys on layaway awaiting the final payment.

Along with the announcement, we knew the layaways would be cancelled; and our hopes were dashed.

My brothers were determined to at least get us a Georgia pine tree from our grandparents' property. They set out on Christmas Eve with hatchet in hand and returned at sunset with the largest tree I had ever seen. I thought it was the most beautiful thing and needed very little to be an official Christmas tree. We strung it with popcorn and cranberries, and I made homemade snowflakes out of lined notebook paper. (No one seemed to mind the lines.) A tinfoil star and a few glass ornaments later, we had something worthy of the Ladies' Home Journal magazine cover. We all slept around the prized tree, cherishing the fragrant smell and feel of the day.

The next morning I awoke to see presents--scads of them--dressed in red, green, and blue, and tied off with festive ribbons!

A beautiful doll with shiny blond hair and sparkling blue eyes was sitting underneath the tree, mingled in amongst the wrappings. The tag said, "Merry Christmas to my gal, Sal."

I named her Joy-Joy, for despair had left our home.

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I suspect someone heard of our situation and came in the night bearing gifts. This was one of my favorite Christmas memories and really a miracle. Santa is as Santa does.

Art : The Goblin by avmurray on
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