Dec 5, 2009

Pink Saturday - Childhood Christmas Memory

Visit Beverly to read about many other wonderful holiday memories!

My seventh Christmas was the most memorable of my childhood.

My dad was typical of depression era men.  He moved us to Michigan from Tennessee in search of work.  Dad worked in a steel mill and often took on a second and even third job to make ends meet.  I've often been reminded of Dad's selfless work ethic and commitment to family during times my husband and I needed to do some finagling in order to make ends meet, especially when we were younger and had small children.  My mother was a stay at home mom, then known as a "house wife" - yikes - not really a very attractive term, is it?  It doesn't quite describe what most moms do, whether they work outside the home or not.  My mother was a fabulous success in her career.  She kept an immaculate house, she managed four children and all the activities that go with them, she baked like Betty Crocker, she sewed all our drapes and many of our outfits, and she decorated our home beautifully with what was available or she could make. I was a lucky little girl. 

When I was seven, my sister was ten and my brother was four.  I remember our house as clearly as if I were in it now.  We had a tan VINYL sectional sofa - WOW, is all I can say about that, but it was the height of fashion in 1959!  At that time both my parents smoked, children of the south, and they had the coolest ash trays - pottery on a stand.  I can still see Dad rolling his own cigarettes on old crank machine.  There was a farm house type kitchen with an attached "utility room" - what we would now call a laundry room.  Mom's laundry room was always in action.  My sister and I shared a bedroom, fully decked out in pink ruffles, compliments of Mom's sewing machine.  My bed was next to a window and just outside it was a huge old lilac, thus began my life long love affair with lilacs. 

In 1959, all I wanted for Christmas was Chatty Kathy. Kids weren't inundated with toy advertisements on television then like they are today so the really great toys that were on TV commercials were a big deal.  When I saw Chatty, I knew she had to be mine.  A big Christmas for kids in average working class families in the '50's would have been a three or four gifts each.  But Chatty girl was all I needed.  I was so excited that Christmas morning when we got up and sat around the Christmas tree in our jammies.  Of course the tree was real and it was decorated with those big, hot multi-colored bulbs that every kid burned their fingers on at some point in childhood.  The gifts were passed out.  I remember three.  A tiny box, a soft, tissue wrapped package, and a large box.  As we opened our gifts, I saved the large box for last, hoping it was what I thought it might be.  I remember Mother wanted my sister and I to open our identical tissue wrapped packages together, so we opened those first.  How I wish I still had that sweet gift.  Mother had made us matching gray wool flannel poodle skirts.  The poodles were pink - I always have been a pink girl, you know!  Karen and I both wore our little skirts for Christmas day.  The tiny box contained one of the most precious gifts I've ever recieved.  My father had saved his money and gone by himself to buy sweet little gold bracelets for my sister and I.  I believe my brother got a little car to ride in that year.  I had already received two wonderful gifts but I had my eye on the larger box.  When I opened it my seven year old dreams came true!  Chatty Kathy sat in all her glory, dressed in a sweet little pink striped dress and white pinafore. 

Christmas in 1959 brought lovely gifts and happy memories for a life time.  The years have flown by and this mother and grandmother of 57 (I will be 57 on my birthday tomorrow) realizes the real gift my parents gave me.  I never knew of the times my parents struggled to make ends meet.  I thought all daddies worked three jobs.  I thought all mommies made their children's clothes and bedspreads and scrimped to make groceries last.  My childhood was one of security and the knowledge that I was loved and wanted.

What more does any child need?


ceekay said...

Oh my goodness still have her! She is so cute. I never had one...really didn't know about them. We were blessed as children, even though in today's world, we didn't get much. But I treasure all those memories.

Rose Haven said...

Hi Kathy...

Happy Birthday!!

It was wonderful reading about all your memories from your best Christmas ever.


Joyce said...

You certainly were a lucky little girl to have such a wonderful family and wonderful loving memories. I remember that doll. Thanks for sharing.

grey like snuffie said...

So blessed to have had such security and love...Happy Birthday!!!!!!

Mary said...

I do hope you have a wonderful birthday. I really loved the memories you've shared with us today. They are special and sweet. Have a great day.

Heather said...

that sounds like a wonderful Christmas! what a special memory. I was so excited for you reading your story :)

Linda said...

Kathy, I'm just a few years older then you and the Christmas you describe sounds like so many of my childhood. We didn't have a lot of money but we had love, family and parents that sacrificed to make a special Christmas for us. I never had that poodle skirt, but would have loved one. My Mom sewed so many of my clothes and decorated our house with her skills and not a lot of $$, great memories. Thanks for sharing.

Linda Mac

A Hint of Home said...

Hi Kathy,
Those days of our youth brings back good memories for me, as well. Dad the breadwinner with 5 children and yet we still had wonderful Christmases, even though not elaborate.
Thanks for sharing.
Merry Christmas to you!

Beverly said...

Happy Pink Saturday, Kathy. We're the same age. ;-)

You and I were both blessed with wonderful parents that loved us well. I never had a Chatty Kathy, but I do still have many of my dolls. Thank you for sharing your sweet memories with us.

Mollye said...

Hi Kathy and Happy Birthday...they just keep getting better and better! What wonderful memories. Mine are so similar as I was born in '44 and my parents sound "cut much of the same cloth". Yep we were indeed lucky to have been raised with love and the teachings of gratitude and especially in an era of make-do and in not having the "wants". Thanks for sharing your special memories. Mollye

vickie said...

Happy Pink Saturday, and Happy Birthday. Wonderful post, brought good memories back for me. Thanks for sharing.

blessings, Vickie

mary from michigan said...

My favorite Christmas memory is similar to yours. My dad worked for GM and also worked at painting houses (re-habbing HUD rentals, which us kids helped with: yuk!) as well as planting trees from our nursery and selling Christmas trees. My mom was a housewife and I'm from a family of nine, with five girls, so like your mom, my mom sewed a lot! The five of us girls got Chrissy dolls one year for Christmas, and my mom made our dolls a whole closet full of clothes, and we each had a matching dress to match one she made for each doll. She made a closet for the dolls out of a cardboard box, spray-painted metallic gold, with velvet drapes and a dowel clothes rod. She made chairs out of bleach bottles also painted gold with scalloped backs and fur upholstered seats. We were in heaven. Love those Christmas memories! Thanks for bringing to mind a special memory so similar to yours!

Bernideen said...

I see we both shared our dolls - except my doll is older! I guess that means I AM OLDER! Ha

dana said...

Kathy, this post was wonderful. I so enjoyed reading your words. . . your memories are in such great detail! I had a very similar childhood. . . poor in money, but rich in love! It's so wonderful that you still have your doll. . . do you have your bracelet, too?

Thanks for this precious Christmas Memory!

Happy Belated Pink Sat.