Since we are two weeks from Christmas, I thought I'd share some Christmas memories. Since I don't have any pictures of Christmas when I was a little girl, I can't include any pictures here. I still want to begin with these two Christmases.
First, Christmas 1963. My dad had died in May and at 12, I was old enough to know about Santa and I just wasn't sure what my mom was going to do. Keep in mind those were the days that Santa brought maybe two or three gifts, but two or three x 6 daughters was still a lot for my mom who worked as a waitress. Enter the Salvation Army (which is why I can NEVER pass a bell ringer without having a tear in my eye and put something in their little pot)--they brought food and we got to go to an event at our local movie theater where we got a stocking. That year I also found my mom's Christmas list and it totally ruined Christmas for me--I don't think I even shook a present after that--I had NO DESIRE to know what I was getting until after I opened it.
A year later, Christmas 1964, my mom was gone--she died December 3, a week after her 47th birthday. Me and 4 of my sisters had been living with my oldest sister Carol's boyfriend. (Carol was still in the hospital with tuberculosis) The house was crowded--12 of us in a 3 bedroom home. My biggest concern that year was for my sister, Linda, who was 9--what was she going to do when Santa didn't come. It was around that time that Helen and Les entered the picture. (Helen had worked with my mom and she and Les wanted to do something to help.) We spent much of Christmas with them that year. Their home was filled with such love. One of my favorite stories from that year was when we gathered around the piano to sing Christmas carols. Helen invited us to sing. I turned to Helen and said, "We don't sing." She said, "Oh, everyone sings." So we did. Then she said, "You're right, you don't sing."
My sisters and I will never forget the love and generosity that was shown to us by all those wonderful people. Gary's parents did the best they could and were so helpful to us while our mom was in the hospital, and then Helen and Les came along when we really needed them.