by Phyllis Zeck
Christmas is always big at our house,because my parents suffered through Christmases with very little to spare during the Great Depression. Now they are effusive and generous to us kids, as no one in their generation, or even in their parents’ generation could have afforded to be. My grandfather tells us of many Christmases where he only received a stocking with a few candies and an orange, the only orange he would get to eat all year. One year, he says, his brothers were so wicked everyone in the family
got a lump of coal in their stocking. That was the second worst Christmas of his life. The worst we find out about later, when we’re older.
But Christmas in the Fifties, oh boy! Mama takes us on the “El” to Michigan Avenue, to see all the storefront windows brilliant with garish colors and sparkling shapes. Mechanical fairytale figures dance, skate, and twirl before our eyes, each window a different scene.
I am dreaming of Lionel trains after seeing the elaborate layout my cousin Bubba has. I ask my father if Santa will bring me a train set. He says, “You have to ask Santa that yourself.” But I see the gleam in his eye; turns out he loves Lionels as much as I.