Tuesday, January 31, 2023


Remembering the magic of childhood Christmases

Ah, Christmas. Today’s holiday season pales in comparison to early Christmas memories. It’s probably because back then I was just a child. I had no additional Christmas responsibilities. Without money of my own, I gave very little serious thought to purchasing gifts for others. Presents for my parents were usually handmade at school. My mom and dad dutifully ooh-ed and ahh-ed over my small gifts for them regardless of how each looked.

Unlike my mom, I had no worries about preparing Christmas dinner for our sizeable extended family. Christmas cookies? I “helped” make them, which means I liberally doused each cookie with red- or green-tinted sugar sprinkles and then ate most of my glorious cookie creations.

The most pressure I felt during the holidays was reciting my lines for the children’s Christmas Eve service at church. I was able to keep my worries at bay by concentrating on the small brown sack of peanuts and hard candy I knew we’d all receive after the service ended. Those were the best Christmases ever.

Special gifts

As I look back, there are two childhood Christmas gifts that stand out, even now. I remember feeling happy and excited about both gifts.

Wedding doll

First, there was my “bride doll.” On Christmas Eve, I tore back the wrapping paper and there she was. She took my breath away. Dressed in white with lace everywhere, my “bride doll” smiled up at me and I swear I saw her blue eyes twinkle! She had pearl earrings, wore high heels, and each dainty fingernail featured a subtle red polish that matched her lipstick perfectly. On one hand she wore a diamond ring, and in the other hand carried a small bouquet of flowers.

My doll

A doll isn’t an unusual gift. I received many dolls over the years for Christmas. But here’s the unusual thing: I never played with her. My bride doll stayed in her original pink box for decades. Oh, I’d pull her out from time to time, just to remember what she looked like. Somewhere along the line her ring disappeared, as did the bouquet. I’m not sure why I didn’t play with my bride doll. Maybe because she was just so perfect, I didn’t dare!

Tea set

The second memorable Christmas gift was my china (porcelain) tea set. I loved the tiny teacups and saucers, but the sugar bowl had a tiny removable lid, so it was my favorite. There were enough pieces to serve six of my dolls or teddy bears, but I never really played with this Christmas gift either! Again, I may have been too afraid of breaking the delicate pieces or somehow otherwise harming such a treasured gift. (Full disclosure: I wasn’t always the most agile or careful of children.)

A new idea

I recently rediscovered my bride doll and the tea set. They both look much like they did on the Christmas Eve when I first received them. As I contemplated these special gifts, I made a decision. This Christmas, the doll and tea set will come out to play! Little ones who visit us this holiday season will have something new, yet old, to play with. If a teacup accidentally breaks, it won’t be the end of my world. If some lace on the bride doll’s dress gets inadvertently wrinkled, I’ll live. Toys are made to be played with, and I can’t wait to watch it happen!

Do you have special Christmas memories? A special Christmas gift? Please share your memories in the comments below.



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Neal Davis
1 month ago

Thank you, Gail! Such a wonderful account of your most memorable Christmas gifts! I can remember many gifts that I received over the years. Sadly, none was as special to me as either of yours. Merry Christmas!

1 month ago
Reply to  Neal Davis

Merry Christmas to you, Neal.

1 month ago

I remember the Christmas’s that I cried when I got gifts that I knew my parents could not afford.

1 month ago

When I was 9, I asked for a foot pump air mattress for Christmas. My Dad and my brothers laughed! Next camping trip I was pumping with my foot and laughing at everyone else’s blown out cheeks.

1 month ago

My most memorable Christmas was 1942 or 43 when I came down stairs from my bedroom to see a Lionel train set setup on the dining room table in an oval shape. That started me on a hobby which lasts to this day – altho now in HO gauge (1/87″ scale). While I no longer have a layout I have several storage cases of Great Northern/Northern Pacific rolling stock. I still enjoy riding on Amtrak – but alas no where near the Empire Builder or the North Coast Limited or the other true “streamliners” of yesteryear! So, I live today with my fantasies of yesteryear! Ahhh nostalgia! (Oddly, I pursued a career in the military and aviation!).

Jerry Lee Liszak
1 month ago

My most memorable Christmas was when I was five or six years old. All I wanted was an electric train set. On Christmas morning when I came downstairs to see the tree with all the toys under it, there was no train set to be found. I cried, and then my parents took me down to the basement where there was this huge train set the size of two ping pong tables with a mountain my mother made with paper mache. The train tracks ran up on the mountain and circled around a glass lake and down below was a small town with lights. She even made trees out of sticks with Spanish moss on them.

1 month ago

That’s wonderful! Thanks for sharing.

Robert Wood
1 month ago

I remember around 1970 that I got a GI Joe, with the footlocker. I played with mine a lot. Well let’s fast forward to six months ago. A friend of mine has a eight year old son who adores all things GI Joe so this 62 years old dude gifted him my old Joe. The smile on his face was worth a million bucks. The thank you note made me teary eyed. I would post a picture if I knew how.

1 month ago
Reply to  Robert Wood

Very moving Robert….I don’t even think you need to post a picture. Personally, my favorite times were when both my parents were here.

Robert Wood
1 month ago
Reply to  Drew

You’re right Drew, I would give anything to have my Dad back this Christmas.

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