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One year, Daddy handed us children a five-dollar bill so we could each spend a dollar to buy something for Christmas from the little country grocery store a quarter-mile from our house. We walked to the store, and the store owner helped us fill a small box.
Another year, we children found a letter from Santa. It was 1937, and I was 4 years old.
I was surprised to see you living in such a big house. ... I’m sorry I couldn’t fill your stockings, but ... every time I started to put candy in, they would fall to the floor. ... I left your candy ... in a dish under the tree.
I didn’t have two electric trains, so I left one for Junior and John to share. I’m sure they will not fight ... and won’t let anyone bang up those pretty cars or bend the track. ...
Mary Ellen and Wanda Rose are good little girls and want to help keep the house cleaned up ... so these cleaning things belong to both of you. And, Mary Ellen, I know you wanted to wear your short-sleeve dress to school, so I got you a nice red sweater. Never eat at the table with it unless you put your apron on over it.
Alice Joy ... I had a box of dollies ... and have left it for you, and now I know you will mind Mother and Daddy, and never frown up your pretty face.
Well, I must be on my way. ... Be very good boys and girls ... Merry Christmas until another year.
We eventually found out that Mother had written the letter. What an unusual gift that letter was, and you can tell by her words that gifts were few and were to be treasured.
Wanda - San Luis Obsipo, California
Unusual, Awful Thanksgiving
I grew up in rural Illinois during the 1940s and ’50s. Due to the frequent inclement weather, I often spent the holidays flat on my back with a thermometer stuck in my mouth. I was plagued with childhood illnesses.
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