December 21, 1966
Jocie Brooke here reporting from Hollyhill, Kentucky. Since Christmas is almost here, and I don’t know about you, but I can hardly wait, I decided to interview my dad about his Christmas memories.
Me: “Tell me about Christmas when you were a kid.”
Dad: “Christmas was a pretty simple affair when I was a boy. We had stockings that we hung on the mantel. My mother and father hung their stockings up there too. We didn’t have fancy store bought stockings that are made just for gift getting. We just used our regular socks that we wore on our feet. I always searched through my sock drawer to get the biggest sock I had. I wanted there to be room for an orange in the toe and plenty of candy on top. The week before Christmas, I would go out in the fields and chop down a cedar tree for us to decorate. We strung popcorn and I made paper chains for decorations. My mother was always making something pretty too and so she crocheted little angels for the tree.
Then she cooked and cooked as if she expected our family to explode in number. We had cookies of all kinds. My favorite were the chocolate ones with white icing on top. Dad liked the oatmeal raisin ones best. Mama said she liked them all. She made the best divinity candy in the world. We would crack black walnuts we’d picked up in the fall and pry the walnut kernels out of the shells with a metal nutpicker. A chore, but those walnuts made that divinity even more delicious.
Every Christmas Eve, my father would read the Christmas story aloud. Then on Christmas morning, I’d pop out of bed at the first hint of daylight, but I never beat my parents up. Dad would already have the fire going and Mom would have cinnamon rolls in the oven. We’d open our presents which didn’t take long since we only had a couple. Most of the time we’d get a new jigsaw puzzle that we could work on that day. Sometimes we played cards. It was a good time. My folks knew how to make me feel loved.
Me: Any special Christmas gifts?
Dad: My father made me a sled one year. He could make anything he set his mind to make. I prayed for snow for days after that Christmas. When my prayers were finally answered and snow fell, I felt like I was flying on that sled down the hill out behind our house. Another time I got a BB gun. But my best gift ever was the Bible my father gave me before I went into the service after the war started. That Bible meant the world to me. It was also the last time I saw him alive. He had a heart attack and died a couple of months later while I was in training camp. I was glad I hadn’t already been assigned to a submarine so that I could come home to be with my mother for his funeral.
Me: A best Christmas ever?
Dad: Two of those. The one after Tabitha was born and the one after you were born. I felt so blessed to have the gift of a child to love and hold in my heart.
My father is the best guy ever. What about you? Have you ever asked your parents about their Christmases?