Christmas at our house was always wonderful! It was not that we got everything we wanted - kids always have expectations way beyond reality. But everything seemed bright and shiny. My mom had Christmas music on the radio (the one with the little, round red light in front), and later on the "new hi-fi system." And she sang or hummed from Thanksgiving to New Years.
For as long as I can remember, her favorite was "Silver Bells." My brother's first year in the Army was when Elvis was really at his peak. His song "I'll be Home for Christmas" was played over and over again. My brother had been told he would not be able to get leave and had told my mom several times. But she never, ever gave up believing. Her boy, her first born, would make it home. Sometimes we would tease her but she just took it in stride. Just wait and see, she'd say. But when it was the day before Christmas Eve, and still no sign of Mike, she began to lose a bit of her faith.
We were at a corner bar/restaurant, having a fish fry. My sister was standing outside, watching the snow come down. All of a sudden she tore back into the restaurant and said "mom, a soldier just got out of a car!" She told her to calm down, but she got up from the table and went to see for herself. So we all went to the front door. As long as I live, I'll never forget how my brother picked her up in his arms and swung her around! There were beers and tears all around for in a small community, everyone knew everyone. His leave was short and it was so hard to see him go again, but her wish came true and we all rejoiced!
I think it was then that I learned that the best gifts do not necessarily come in colorful wrapping paper, nor need to be expensive. This gift, as they say in commercials now, was priceless! And one for my memory book!