I have told this story a gazillion times, so I was feeling a little guilty about telling it again, but then I thought...Hmmm, some of my favorite stories are old ones. (Well, I don’t actually think in whole sentences like that, but you get my drift.) But it’s Christmas. My favorite Christmas story is a couple thousand years old. Muriel Jensen’s A Carol Christmas is another one. Mary Balogh’s A Christmas Promise yet another. So here’s mine, for the gazillionth time. Thanks for reading.
It was the Christmas of 1975. We were four years and three kids into being married and living in our first very own first purchased house. It came complete with three bedrooms, one bath, and a 30-year mortgage with a 9% interest rate. Yowser! Money was an issue. Time was an issue. Let’s face it—everything was an issue.
I was making Kari, our little girl, a Holly Hobby dress (to go along with her Holly Hobby dolls,
My husband, Duane, turned off the TV (if you knew him, you’d know what a big deal that is—he doesn’t know about the Off switch) and stayed up with me, making me coffee and talking and doing all the gift-wrapping we'd normally have done together, until 2:00 AM, when he wrapped the dress and we stumbled off to bed.
A very, very few hours later, we watched the kids open their gifts--the dress fit as though it was, well, yes, made for her, and she looked beautiful. My gift came out from under the tree last.
It was a new sewing machine. White and bright and beautiful. To this day, I don't know how he saved the money to pay for it.
Forty years later, it still works. It’s Kari’s now. Not that she sews often—being a schoolteacher and the mother of three teenagers puts a damper on that—but she still has the Holly Hobby dress, too. It lies on a vintage wooden ironing board in her living room. Every time we see it, Duane and I smile at each other and I choke up a little and the shared memories slip into the bond created by being married 40-some years. Strengthening it, helping to keep it a warm and happy place for us.
We live in a different house now and those three kids and their spouses have seven of their own. It’s a different time. I haven’t seen 2:00 AM on Christmas morning for a good many years (nor do I miss it), but the memory of that night in 1975 never ages.
Merry Christmas, everyone. I hope it is a blessed and Heartwarming time for you.
Christmas for me as a child was an oddly fragmented celebration: Christmas Eve with my father and his extended family followed by midnight Mass with my aunt and uncle and five cousins next door to my grandparents’ house where I lived. O Holy Night always ended the service, the final high notes achingly pure and lovely, the perfect transition between the religious observation and the rowdy breakfast feast served at two in the morning, an exotic novelty itself for a child. In the morning I returned to my grandparents’ house for another round of presents and the big Christmas dinner, generally starring a ham adorned with pineapple rings and maraschino cherries.
The real high point of Christmas for me wasn’t receiving presents but rather shopping for them. My
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