A Porch of My Own

A Porch of My Own

Saturday, November 24, 2012

The Ghosts of Christmas Past

Last year I got Rickie an iPod for Christmas. He said it was the best present he ever got. In his job he is on the road a lot and anyone that does that knows radio stations are not what they used to be, even on satellite radio. 

I got to thinking about presents I had gotten in the past and what my favorites were. The one that always comes to my mind first was the 1950s/1960s version of the iPod. It was a General Electric Model P797B leather transistor radio. (The photo is of one like mine, only a different color.) It was about the size of a Kindle or small tablet of today, only thicker, of course. Had to accommodate all the innards of a portable radio back then. 

It was a beautiful baby blue, almost a turquoise. I remember running my hands over the smooth surface and thinking how lovely it was and how lucky I was to have it. I had never seen blue leather before and didn't even know it existed! The leather (leatherette, actually!) cover became a flap in the back, like an envelope, and this was how you accessed the insides. I loved it dearly; it was my pride and joy.

Back then we kids stayed outside all the time. Our tiny house was no place to hang out; way too crowded with a family of kids. We stayed outside until after dark every day, as all kids everywhere did.

One day when I had been out late, I forgot and left it outside on a table. It rained that night. The next morning it was ruined. I was sick beyond tears. Especially since it was my fault for not bringing it in. I learned a hard lesson that day and after that always took better care of my treasures. We were a poor family and no one could go out and buy me another one. I was about 10 or 11 and even I knew that and never even asked. Mama and Daddy had sacrificed and worked hard to be sure we had a nice Christmas every year and I had not given their gift the respect it deserved.

Another favorite present I got was also one from my childhood. It was a beautiful boxy cropped jacket with a fake fur collar. It had a matching skirt. My sister Kathy and I each got one. One was mint green but I can't remember the color of the other one. The fake fur was dyed to match the outfit. It was just about the most beautiful thing I had ever had! It reminded me of my mom's coat and I felt so grown up.

The coat my mom had was a long wool overcoat with a shawl-type beaver fur collar that I loved. I can remember being about 5 years old and when she came home from work every day in wintertime, my brother David and I would meet her at the door. The cold air blew in with her. She would crouch down to be on our level and hug us. I would bury my face in the beaver collar and rub my hand over it. I thought we must be very rich to afford a coat like that! I can still see that in my mind and feel that warm, safe feeling.The picture in my mind is as clear as any photo. Years later when I was grown I asked her if she still had it; I was going to ask her if I could have it. She said she had recently given it to her cousin Florine. I wish I had asked her earlier. 

I was not much for dolls as a child. I was more the Cowboys and Indians type of girl. (The photo here is of my brother David, me, and my sister Kathy.) But one year I got a big "life-size" doll. She would walk if you held her hand and wobbled her back and forth. Her mouth had an open hole in it; she must have had a toy bottle that came with her. My brother David and I crushed a lot of crackers one time and stuffed them down her mouth. After that we could shake her and hear the crackers rattling around in her stomach. We were easily entertained.

Another present I want to mention was not one I received but one my boys were given. I love the idea of it and wanted to share it with you all. My boys' great-grandparents lived on a farm near LaGrange. They had 14 kids, and as you can imagine a bazillion grandkids and great-grandkids, etc. Every Christmas Grandma Betty would go to the bank and get a sack of silver dollars. Any of the little kids that came to see her received a silver dollar. If you didn't take the time to come visit the old folks, you didn't get anything. My boys treasured these silver dollars and as far as I know, they still have them. When they were in junior high some neighbor kids broke into our home and stole them. They took them to a ceramic shop down the street and bought some worthless ceramics with them. Their mom found out and went to the shop and bought them back and returned them to my boys. 

From this silver dollar gift I learned a few lessons. Number one, a gift doesn't have to be costly to be treasured. Of all the things Larry and John have received in their lives, this is probably the one they held on to the longest and surely one that meant a lot to them. Number two, if you don't care enough about the giver to stay in touch, you may find yourself without a gift. Number three, if you have 14 kids and a bazillion grandkids, you have to think creatively to make a gift memorable. Number four, it's not just the silver dollar but the memories attached to it from the visit to the farm that make it a treasure. Grandma Betty was wise in knowing that if you came you would take more than a silver dollar away from the visit.

I hope you all have a memorable holiday this year and take away more than material gifts from your visits and gatherings. I hope you have a place to sit by a fire and sip a warm drink. I hope the Ghosts of Christmas Past that visit you are all dearly loved Ghosts and I hope their visits warm your heart. I hope you can be a child once more and see things from a child's view. I hope you are safe and have a roof over your head. 

Peace out.

1 comment:

  1. Girl... we could have so much fun walking through the antique shops. I can just hear us... Me:"My mom had one of these..." You:"My Grandma had one too!"
    You stirred memories for me too, my favorite radio that had been set on the same radio station for so long that the dial wouldn't turn. My mom's white wool coat with a detachable white fur collar. We found it in a back closet when we were about to have the estate sale. I wish I still had my purple Twiggy lunch box... :( One of my favorite gifts from Uncle Joe.