A Favorite Christmas Memory
Growing up in northeast Montana, our Winters are traditionally white and cold! But our family celebrations gave a warmth that filled our house with love and baking! My mom's bread was considered the best in the country, and she loved baking for my dad, six brothers, and me. At Christmas, the house smelled of sugar cookies, apple pies, and of course on Christmas Eve, the turkey dinner.
Christmas Eve at our house always meant Christmas Eve Church service at our little Lutheran Church. All of our cousins and friends filled the pews to capacity, my Aunt Millie played the piano (in later years I became that pianist/organist), and we sang Silent Night with our candles lit in the darkened church, tears glistening at the beauty of the moment. After church, we extended our Christmas wishes to all of the visiting families and relatives, then home to our Christmas dinner (or "supper" which is what we call it in the country) which was now ready!
Waiting for dinner to be finished, we little ones could think of nothing but Santa coming with his sleigh full of presents. I had four older brothers and one of them would always call us to the big picture window and point up, suggesting that he saw Rudolph's red nose and we'd better get to bed! But in our family, my mother always read the Christmas Story from the Bible before we went to bed. I cherish that tradition now that my parents are gone.
So, to bed we went, listening for the bells of Santa's sleigh in the dark. Somewhere in the night, my brothers quietly set out Santa's gifts, since they knew that my little brothers and I would be up long before dawn. Technically 2:00 AM was morning, right?
My favorite Christmas was when I woke up around 4:00 a.m. and found a "Suzy Smart" under the tree. She had a desk, blonde hair tied in a pony tail, and a cute little school-girl skirt and blouse. I took her and sat down to look at her and suddenly she started talking! It startled me, since the house was asleep and quiet...but once I knew how she worked, she talked to me until her battery ran out later in the day. "My name is Suzy Smart. What's your name? I can do arithmetic. 2+2 is four. 4+4 is eight. I can recite. Twinkle, twinkle, little star, how I wonder what you are." To quell any doubts that I might be having about whether there was a real Santa or not, Suzy Smart's little black beret with a red tassel was found out in the snow! One of my older brothers came in, breathlessly telling me they had found it next to SLEIGH TRACKS. That Santa must have dropped it out of his bag! I was so excited -- and was a steadfast, true believer until I was about 8 (when I finally caught Santa's helpers when I woke up just a little TOO early...but that's for another story)! I remember that I had asked for a Chrissy doll, whose hair would "grow" when you pulled it out, but I loved my Suzy Smart and still have her sitting in a place of honor now, although she no longer talks ...just in my memories. :)