I was four when I wrote my first letter to Santa Claus. Mom gave me a sheet of paper, torn from an Indian Chief tablet to write on. I thought I was sooo big. I sat down at the kitchen table to begin my letter.
I made a row of large circles across the paper then another row of medium circles and finally a row of small circles. Mom kept asking me what I was asking Santa to bring but I told her it was a secret between Santa and me. No amount of coaxing could get me to give up the secret. One day Aunt Agnes came out to visit. She said she had talked to Santa and he told her that I could tell her what I had asked for but I couldn’t tell anyone else, so I finally relented and told her Santa was going to bring me a set of doll dishes.
We never had a Christmas tree. Very few people in our community had a tree, after all why would we need one when Santa came to our house in person on Christmas eve. Christmas eve was a time of big excitement. The cows were milked early , supper was served early so we’d all be ready for Santa.
Santa would show up right after dark. He came to the house making lots of noise on the porch stomping the snow off his boots. His reindeer were nowhere in sight. Santa said they were hungry so he left them in the stanchions in the barn. He was giving them some hay while he delivered the gifts.
Santa left a couple of presents and a small sack with an orange and a little candy for each kid. My most memorable present was a doll. I named the doll Tommy. Tommy’s head was made with some sort of sawdust mixture and one day I dropped him. Poor Tommy was played with for a long time with a hole in his head.
After Santa left we played with our new toys for awhile ,then started to get dressed to go to midnight mass. We would get to wear our new mittens or maybe we got a scarf or stocking caps that mom had knitted for us. I remember one year I got a colorful rosary. You never saw anyone so angelic in your life. After all I wanted everyone to see the new rosary.
We usually had snow on the ground and many times it was snowing when we went to mass. I can still hear the squeak of our shoes as we walked in the dark on the cold crisp snow.
The church was always softly lit along with many candles. A large nativity scene took up one of the side altars. A soft spotlight made it appear almost magical. The choir sang all the Christmas carols . The priest wore his red and cream colored robes . Al this along with the smell of incense all made Christmas very special.