I still have the tiny porcelain girl. She is still colorful and still clutches her little dolly in her arms. I have kept her for nearly 65 years. She was the first Christmas gift that I received when I was in first grade at Caney Fork, a quaint little one-room school near Davis Crossroads.
The little boy who gave her to me is grey-haired and probably pushing 70 by now. His face is somewhat lined and is now longer than the golden haired little feller who proudly presented me with that small gift, long years past. (I’m not the little girl in pig-tails either.)
I shall always remember that Christmas…
All grades 1-8 were there in that room, and Christmas was truly a happy event.
Several of the older boys would hike into the woods behind the little school house, cur a huge cedar and drag it into the schoolyard. With old boards, a hammer and a few nails, they made a homemade stand. After dragging the cedar into the school house, it was placed in the corner, away from the big pot-bellied stove that stood in the center of the room and provided our heat.
We had no fancy decorations. We merely strung popcorn and cut out paper stars, which we colored. When it was finished, the tree looked beautiful! But what I really remember most is the sweet precious Christmas spirit felt in each of our hearts. None of us had money for expensive gifts. (Most of them were homemade.) But we appreciated them just the same.
The teacher would pass out an apple or orange and a candy cane to each child and then we would sing. Oh, how I remember the carols… “Away in a Manger” and “Silent Night.”
Brother would bring his guitar and I do believe we may have sang every carol that was ever written! Our teacher would string old sheets on wire to create a curtain of sorts. We would feel very important standing up there on that make-shift stage, reciting poems and singing…
The tiny little china doll that I received (I found out much later) had been a treasured item of the little boy’s mother. But unable to come up with anything for a a gift, she wrapped the little figurine to give to me. I have kept it all these years and it is precious to me. It reminds me of a simpler, gentler time, when just an orange was a special Christmas treat. And I long for it today in a way. That time long ago, when Christmas wasn’t so commercialized and when the price of a gift wasn’t important.
And so as the cold wind blows outside my window, and maybe even sends a few snow flakes our way, I reminisce as I sit here and hold my tiny china doll and for just a moment, I can hear Brother strumming that old beatup guitar of his. I can see the faces of those precious classmates as they sang “Jungle Bells.” I see the faded flannel shirts and tattered overalls, I see the worn shoes on our feet. But most of all, I see the eyes that shown with the True Spirit of Christmas.
And I wish for you that same spirit of Christmas in your hearts.
One of love, peace and joy.
Till next time.