It is still dark outside. I am not sure of the time, but I think I heard Curt rustling around downstairs. He is getting his Christmas stocking. I just know it. Last night we hung our stockings. I used one of those ugly brown cotton stockings and thought, at the time, it was the best use for the thing. Curt had a wool stocking with two red stripes around the top. Rex had the same but his had two green stripes and Roland came in late, so I am not sure what he hung…maybe he left a shoe, but I think he probably just hung a sock.
After we went to bed last night, I could hear Ma down in the kitchen. The rustle of paper was loud and I knew she was using the kitchen table to wrap our presents. Dad was already in bed reading his western novel by the light of the kerosene lamp. Like I said, he wants nothing much to do with holidays. I fell asleep before the rustling of paper stopped, so Ma must have stayed up late. She tries to make a nice Christmas day for us.
I am going to sneak down and get my stocking. Oh, these old stairs creak something awful. There is just enough light coming through the kitchen windows so I can see some presents on the tree. I have my stocking and up the stairs I go. There is something big and round in the bottom of my stocking and I know it is an orange. We get one every year and I eat mine very slowly and make it last. I think I will save it until way later in the day. I sit on the side of my bed and dig into the stocking. Of course, the stocking is not full. I didn’t expect it to be, but it was the only stocking I had to hang! There are a box of crayons, some little scissors. I have a little flashlight which is getting dimmer and dimmer as I search. Two pencils and a candy cane and here is a card with two pink barrettes for my hair. They are little butterflies! And there is the big orange!!! Wow, what a nice stocking and now I hear Ma getting the kitchen warm for us. She must have heard Curt get his stocking and decided we would all be up early today!
Breakfast is over; dishes are done. Never has cereal, eggs and potato been eaten so quickly! Rex and Roland sit in the kitchen chairs by the wall, Dad is in his usual place at the end of the table, Ma on the other end and Curt sits on the floor in front of the cupboard. I have a little cardboard box sitting on top of the woodbox and will put my presents in there. Curt is excited about a card game called “Old Maids” and is already asking me if I will play with him later. I have a book of paper dolls. I love paper dolls and sometimes I cut clothes out of the Sears catalog that Grammy gives me to fit on the paper dolls. Rex has a book to read and there is a round tin filled with different wooden objects. Tinker Toys! I guess by putting the little wooden sticks into the holes on the round pieces you can make wheels and all sorts of things! He also has a yo yo! Curt is coloring in his new book already. Roland has a new Hardy Boy book and a new flannel shirt. We all have new hats and mittens that Grammy Martin has knit. Ma has the hankies I bought her and some pins that my brothers have bought. Grammy Martin has knit her some mittens and she says they will keep her fingers warm going to work in the morning. Dad has leather mittens with liners and two new flannel shirts. We are all pleased and I will take my box upstairs to the attic and really look at my new treasures.
Dinner is almost cooked, although we do not have a really special meal today. Ma has made her fluffy biscuits and we have a small ham and mashed potatoes and carrots. Hopefully, we will have a special person eat with us today and I can see him coming through the snow.
Grampa Libby has walked all the way from his house on Rowe Hill in the snow and cold. He is carrying a sack over his shoulder and as he gets near the house, I see his beard is white with frost and the cold. He comes in and hands the sack to Ma, who disappears in the bedroom. I take his big black coat and hang it on a hook under the stairs with the other coats. Grampa smiles and when he does, his eyes smile too.
Ma comes from the bedroom with four presents wrapped and hands one to each of us kids. I open mine and there are two beautiful hankies that Grampa has given me. You see, Grampa can’t read nor write as he left school in the third grade to work in the woods and help support his family. It doesn’t matter to us because he is one of the nicest people ever. I look at him and say “thank you” very slowly because he is also hard of hearing. He smiles at me and his eyes light right up. I love my Grampa Libby very much.
We all sit down to eat. Dad does not say much to Grampa. I think it is because he does not know what to say to him, but we talk to Grampa and he is enjoying the ham and potatoes. He doesn’t get nice meals too often, as my Grammy Libby is sick and cannot do much. After we eat Dad will drive him back to Rowe Hill because he doesn’t want Grampa having to walk both ways in this cold weather and snow.
Ma and I pick up the dishes and load them into the black iron sink. Grampa says he should get home because he does not want to leave Grammy too long. We say goodbye and Dad starts up the car and away they go. I hope spring will come soon so Ma can drive us over to visit Grampa more often.
Dishes are done and the house seems very empty. I am going upstairs and use my new little scissors to cut some of the paper dolls. Curt and Rex are sharing the tinker toys and Roland is off skiing with a friend on the pasture hill.
We look forward so long to Christmas and then like a feather in the breeze it comes and goes so quickly. Well, it’s time to peel the orange!