Christmas Gift

At Christmas time it was not unusual to greet friends with, “Christmas gift”! No one was really requesting a gift. It was a kind of southern way of saying “Merry Christmas”.

Although I was raised in a family with a very modest income, I always received a great Christmas each year. I was an only child and I’m sure this made it possible for Mother and Daddy to do more for me than would have been possible in a larger family.

A gift that I received every year was a whole box of “Silver Bells” known today as “Hershey’s Kisses”. They were wrapped in silver foil and didn’t have the little paper tail at their top as today’s Kisses do.

While I always received a big Christmas, there are certain gifts that stand out as special.

The first Christmas gifts that I remember were just before my third birthday. I received a “pedal car” and a large doll that I called Sue. Sue was almost as large as I was. She was sitting in the pedal car next to the Christmas tree that Christmas morning. I didn’t care much for Sue at first. Mother said that I snatched Sue from the car, threw her to the side and then crawled into the car. I gave Sue more attention as I got older and I kept her until I was in the third grade.

I received a red metal “coaster wagon” on my fourth Christmas. This gift was one that meant a lot to me as I grew up. I repainted it when I was ten. It had gotten rusty in places and the wheels had to have new cotter pins to hold them on, but otherwise it was still in good general condition. It not only was one of my favorite toys, it also served as a convenient vehicle for hauling. I finally gave it away before I went to college.

When I was in the fifth grade, Daddy was in the army overseas. Christmas was especially financially difficult for Mother, but she gave me a fantastic gift. This was before we had all of the electronic gadgets that we have today. One of her cousins had a small radio station in East Point and he sold her a tabletop record player (I think for twenty dollars). This was not the usual kind of record player. Even by today’s standards it was a marvel. It broadcast a radio signal and records could only be heard over a radio, since it had no speaker of its own. By extending a long exterior antenna the records I played could be heard on radio all over town. Kids would call me and request certain records. I had a small radio station and what fun it was!

Daddy bought me a semiautomatic rifle for Christmas when I was in high school. I think he felt sorry for me. I had a single shot 22 rifle that I used when I went hunting with Jimmy. Jimmy had a semiautomatic rifle that made my fire power look pitiful. Daddy didn’t understand that I didn’t go hunting to shot anything. I just enjoyed being on an outing with a friend. I found the rifle before Christmas and felt it was a waste of money since I had no need for it. It took some courage to tell Daddy that I’d found the rifle and that I had no desire for a gun. He seemed to understand.

I guess the largest gift I ever received was on the Christmas before I graduated from college. To my utter surprise I received a brand new Ford! This had to be quite a financial sacrifice for my parents who were already paying for my college. I had a good mother and daddy who were better than Santa Claus.