Holidays at home

How we observed Christmas Holidays

Holidays were always special at our house. My mother was especially fond of Christmas and always made a great fuss about it . For instance, every year Mother would drive us to the Sears store in North Philadelphia to see Santa and the Christmas decorations. At our house, Santa brought the tree on Christmas Eve after the children were in bed. Actually, Uncle Bub, my father’s brother, and Aunt Hazel came to the house and helped Mother and Dad with the decorating on Christmas Eve.

Of course, we hung stockings on the fireplace mantel and left cookies and milk for Santa. I recall one Christmas when we came down to find the cookies and milk gone but with some crumbs on the plate and a sooty footprint by the fireplace. We believed in Santa that year. We would wake early on Christmas morn and try to sneak down to see what Santa had brought but my mother always heard us and made us wait till everyone was ready. I did make it one year and felt very sneaky peeking at the piles of gifts before anyone else. It was a depression economy and things were tight but we never knew that. I remember mother putting her main gift to dad under my bed on Christmas Eve. It was a simple bookcase for his Reader Digests made of wood slats, The children, however, usually got whatever we had most wanted. One nice gift that I received was a 28" bike with balloon tires (new feature in those days).

My biggest surprise on any Christmas was getting a 20 gauge shotgun. One year, Roger got a puppy who grew up to be the famous “Butch”. The Christmas tree was placed in one end of the sun porch. We usually kept our gifts under the tree for several days in order to show them to the other kids when they visited. We always went to see what other kids in the neighborhood had gotten too. For years, we had a big Standard Gauge Lionel train which ran on a track under and around the Christmas tree. It was a very realistic train and we had it for many years. My dad eventually gave it to the minister to give to his children. A few weeks ago in a hobby shop I saw a photo of that model engine which was being reissued as a classic. It is now priced at $1099! We enjoyed it every Christmas especially getting it to speed around the track until it fell off rounding a curve. The tree under which the train ran was draped in tinsel. Tinsel in those days was made of thin strips of lead. Whenever the tinsel fell off the tree on to the track it shorted out the trains power supply and blew a fuse.. Other kids had trains too.

David Moore’s father made a train platform for him and it had more track and switches than our layout so we spent a lot of time at his house playing with his train. We always went to see relatives during the Christmas season, especially to Bordentown where my mother’s relatives lived and to Plainsboro to visit Aunt Thelma and Uncle Russell.