The twins born in 1964. It was a very big deal.
Notice the number of packages under the tree? We were a family of five children, and that was the extent of gifting in the 60s. As the years increased in number, so did the packages. Today, a single grandchild receives about that many gifts when our small family gathers.
Things have changed so much from those days. So much of today's "things" come and go so fast, I cannot keep up with current trends as much as I try.
My goals in life have always been to live simply. That sentiment translates into buying a car for value, not color; hosting huge family gatherings with good food and not so many gifts; and celebrating not just on one single calendar day but every day.
Several of my earliest memories of Christmas include my mother purchasing a dozen checkerboard games for about $1 each. They were to be Sunday School gifts, and not for us. One year she wrapped up some little dolls that were branded and not Barbies. We wanted them so bad. She saved one of them until the day she died. It was tossed with many things we let go of while cleaning out her belongings. Case in point - why do we save stuff at all?
On a side note, I have never owned a Barbie Doll (brand name). We did have some knock-offs, my sister and I, but they were too "heavy" to fit those tiny-waisted doll dresses. Maybe that's why I'm such a low maintenance person. It takes too much time to do all that makeup and hair, so I left it the way God intended.
Christmas was more about anticipation and hope than anything. Do children still feel that? I hope so. Pouring over Sears wish books, helping with the baking and most of all Christmas Eve children's programs.
We do a lot of fun stuff at Christmas with the church, grandchildren's dance and watching the lighting of the houses competition. But I miss the dark.
The best part of Christmas was the slow-motion of parents setting aside time for family; walking to church in the twilight - mom's high heels making clicking noises on the sidewalk; time off from school to play for endless hours in the snow. It became a quiet time with darkness like a security blanket wrapped around the small town of Fredonia.
In a couple of years, 1966, the town would experience darkness in the spring when a blizzard of Biblical proportions dropped snow for a couple of days. It was a blessing we still heated that old two-story home with coal. Scary and exciting at the same time - that's a subject for another month.
Some years after I started a family of my own, I came looking for that silver tree in the photo above. It had a light shining on it from a distance. A lamp with a light bulb and a rotating plastic disc in four colors. It changed the tint of the silver "leaves" from yellow to green to blue to red. Everyone goes through that retro-stage, and it would have been cool to use that tree for my own Christmas. (I have always had real trees with old German glass ornaments for most of my Christmases). Alas, it was lent to the Gackle school shortly before it burned down, destroying not only the tree but my high school and its memories.
Oh well, in the end - it all goes back in the box. So, enjoy your 2020 to the fullest, and may all your Christmases be bright.
Sue B. Balcom
Writing, or maybe talking, comes naturally to me and under the guidance of a great newspaper editor I have acquired skills that led me to author four books.