I have been married for 41 years to the man who is still the love of my life, Sandy. He retired in 2008. We love to travel together and spend as much time as life allows with our family. I love to decorate, entertain, cook and bake, garden, and paint. We have two children, a son and a daughter and three precious granddaughters. We are blessed to have a loving son-in-law, but we are saddened beyond description to have lost our beautiful daughter-in-law on December 23, 2010 following the emergency delivery of our newest granddaughter. In spite of our loss, I'm a blessed woman - my cup runneth over!
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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.