"I'll Never Forget Christmas at Grandma's,"

by Lois Smyth

A true account of this teen's most memorable Christmas came the year her mother taught her about giving.

When my father died in 1947, Mother went to work to support us, taking a job as a clerk in a ladies' wear store. She scrimped, took loans to pay off loans and resolved to keep the family together.

And she did! I don't recall ever feeling deprived during those tough years. Instead, I remember our home as a warm and welcome gathering spot for young people and other friends, filled with laughter and good times.

By the time I was 18 and had finished high school, I was happy and looking forward to spending Christmas with my friends. But 2 weeks before Christmas, Mother told me we were going to my grandmother's house for the holiday.

My grandmother and bachelor-uncle Henry lived on a farm some 15 miles out of town. They hadno electricty or running water and lacked what I considered the "good things" in life. They also made no plans for Christmas.

But I had! I was holding down my first job and feeling quite grown up. I intended to share this special holiday time with MY friends, not some relatives at an old farm. But as the day drew near, I realized that no amount of coaxing would change Mom's mind.

When Christmas Eve arrived, Mom told me in her best "I-mean-it" voice to remove all the decorations from our tree. She packed those up, along with all the makings for a complete turkey dinner with the trimmings.

Christmas morning dawned perfectly, with the sun shining brightly across a fresh blanket of snow. But I sulked silently in the backseat of the car as we made our way to Grandma's. This was going to be the worst Christmas evr!

Grandma was surprised to see us as we walked up to her door, "What on earth are you doing here?" she stammered. "We weren't expecting anyone. It's Christmas, and I don't even have a turkey to cook for you."

"I knew that," Mom said as we set boxes of goodies on the kitchen table. "That's why we brought one with us."


Mom warmed herself by the old wood stove in the kitchen, then scolded Uncle Henry for not having a Christmas tree.

"We must have a tree," Mom insisted. "Otherwise, what will we do with all these decorations?"

Uncle Henry quickly caught Mom's spirit. Donning his heavy coat and boots, he called me to join him, and we scoured the wooded hillside until we found the perfect Christmas tree.

Soon the house smelled fresh and piney as we decorated the tree, and the day took on a festive air. The turkey dinner was exceptionally good, too. I was actually beginning to enjoy this unusual Christmas Day!

Dessert was forgotten until Mom came out with the final surprise--a flaming Christmas pudding! "Merry Christmas, Mother!" Mom said.

"Dear me!" Grandma gasped. "I haven't seen a flaming pudding since I left England before I was married. This is the best Christmas ever!" Tears of joy filled her eyes.

I couldn't keep the tears from my eyes, either. I knew then that Mom had also given ME the best Christmas present ever--she had taught me what a beautiful thing it is to give.

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