It was the best Christmas ever.
My mother also remembered that Christmas.
There was no money for Christmas. We were fortunate that your dad had found employment after losing his job when his father's business collapsed. But it was an entry level position paying less than half of what he had earned. He moonlighted when he could find something, but times were tough for everyone. The savings were gone. In January there would not be enough money to pay the mortgage. We had nothing to give our three small children for Christmas. Grandparents had been asked to provide necessities as gifts - warm clothes for three growing children. But there was no money for toys. No money to fill the stockings.
Do you remember Mrs. Morse?
Sure I do, Mom. That nice old lady who lived at the end of the little dirt road that ran next to our property. We used to bring her mail to her every day. She always had a treat for us and always tried to give us money. We never took it. We would have been in big trouble with you.
That's right. I worried about her living alone, but it would have hurt her pride to have me check on her each day. But she always enjoyed the visits from you. After her husband died, she rarely saw anyone else.
A few days before Christmas, she had you bring back a sealed envelope to me. Inside was ten dollars and a note. She begged me to accept the money and use it to buy my children a Christmas present. I couldn't have accepted it for any other reason and I think she knew that. Flying saucers were the most popular toys that Christmas and cost three dollars apiece. I got one for each of you and went to the local Five & Dime store to get some stocking stuffers. With lots of fun toys at 5 cents each, a dollar went a long way. I filled the bottom of the stockings with big oranges, some nuts and some homemade fudge. I added the stocking stuffers at the top. The stockings seemed a little skimpy to me, but you didn't seem to notice.
The flying saucers were the hit of the day. Once you saw them, I don't think you thought about anything else. I'll never forget the kindness of our neighbor. She let us bring Christmas to our children.
Your father and I did not have gifts under the tree from his parents. But it did hold a check that paid our mortgage for the next two months. And that was just long enough. Near the end of February, your father got the transfer and promotion that moved us to Vermont.
Times were hard that Christmas. I would never have picked it as the best. But perhaps it was.