“When we recall Christmas past, we usually find that the simplest things – not the great occasions – give off the greatest glow of happiness.”

I was surprised at how warm it felt when I got the papers this morning. The day, from the window, looked cold. The sunlight is steely, and there is a wind blowing even the biggest pine tree trunks back and forth. Last night it rained, and the drops pelted the door and windows. Gracie wasn’t too happy when she had to make her last trip outside before bedtime.

Around this time of year, my school, St. Patrick’s Grammar School, held its annual fair. It was a really big deal and it was held at the huge meeting room in the town hall which had moveable wooden seats, a stage and an orchestra pit under the stage and was where we made our record with Guy Lombardo. On the day of the fair, we only had a half day of school. The nuns would walk us down the street two blocks to the town hall, and, once there, we were free, on our own. The first stop was always for lunch, a hot dog, a rare treat to have the money to buy. It made me feel rich plunking down the money for lunch. That was thanks to my mother who always gave us enough money so we could buy the hot dog and still have some left to buy a few gifts for the family. Tables ringed the room, and on them were all sorts of gifts for Christmas. I could buy crochet doilies, knitted mittens and hats, plants in all sorts of containers, baked goods and just about anything else you can imagine one of the mothers might have made, but I always headed to the kids’ table. It was filled with gifts to buy for the family and most were only a dime or a quarter. I’d walk up and down the table looking for the perfect gifts for my parents and for my sisters and brother. My mother often got a plant, my father a hankerchief. Once I bought army men for my brother. I don’t remember what I bought for my sisters, but I figure it could have been baby bottles for their dolls, the sort where the milk seemed to disappear.

Those gifts weren’t ever much, but I always felt proud that I could buy them and have something to give at Christmas. When I’d get home from the fair, I’d hide my packages until I could wrap them. The most excitment came when I’d put them under the tree and then tease my sisters about what I had bought them. That was always fun.

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6 Comments on ““When we recall Christmas past, we usually find that the simplest things – not the great occasions – give off the greatest glow of happiness.””

  1. Zoey & Me Says:

    We had a Christmas Store at the school and did a similar buy except at least one parent was there to help pick the right gift. I would always choose something my sisters wouldn’t be interested in but Mom always led me to the clothing area which I never understood. Clothes for Christmas? Yuk. No wonder my sisters hated me. I do recall buying a mug one year with a funny santa face on it and bargained hard to give it to my oldest sis. She had just started drinking coffee. I thought it the perfect gift.

    • Kat Says:

      It wasn’t until I was older that clothes became acceptable presents. When I was a kid, I thought them a waste of a present.

      I think the mug was a thoughtful gift.

  2. olof1 Says:

    We had nothing like that when I grew up and I don’t think they have today either. It’s probably a school law that stops it or something like that, we have loads of laws like that 🙂 🙂 🙂

    For instance, just recently they forbid children to take an apple to school when they have a small break, they call it fruit break. One parent had complained over the cost of apples during a year 🙂 🙂 and since nothing is allowed to cost the parents anything when it comes to school they are now not allowed to bring fruit to the fruit break 🙂 🙂 🙂

    I can’t remember buying gifts until I was a teenager but I must have done it. Strange how some things just blows away with the wind through the ears 🙂 🙂

    Have a great day!

    • Kat Says:

      Now, it’s mostly churches which have fairs.My mother used t come down, and we’d do three or four fairs on a Saturday before Christmas. They were great for stocking stuffers, decorations and wreaths.

      What do they eat during fruit break then?

      Without that fair, I probably wouldn’t have been able to give gifts either.

      • olof1 Says:

        I think they had to stop eating fruit since it was too expensive for the school to buy fruit for all children. I know times is bad for lots of people but couldn’t they have stopped buying something less needed instead? I wouldn’t be surprised if they still buy candy in that family 🙂

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