by Rita of sammysgrammy

In honor of the season, I share this story with you instead of the regular monthly recipe. Please enjoy ♥

Quite accidentally, without any pre-planning whatsoever, I ran into my Aunt Rose one day on a Grey Hound bus. Both of us coming from different starting points but having the same destination and having to make a connecting “flight” for the last leg of our journey, and we traveled together to our final destination. It was on this well-timed occasion that Aunt Rose told me this story about her childhood. I will relay it to you exactly as she shared it with me then I must fill you in on the background because, of course, that’s what makes the story even more precious.

She said, “when I was ten years old, I asked Mumma (that’s what they called my Grandmother) if I could stay up on Christmas Eve and wait for Santa Claus to arrive at our house. Mumma said “yes”. Aunt Rose told me she stationed herself in the chilly front parlor, where the Christmas tree was. “I sat on a hard, straight chair so I would be a bit uncomfortable and not tempted to fall asleep. I sat in that cold parlor and I waited and waited and waited and waited…………………….for Santa to appear. And just when I closed my eyes for a second…….(snaps her fingers) don’tcha know, that’s just when he came!

End of story (abrupt). That’s just how Aunt Rose was. Of course, I loved the story. As I pondered all the details which the background must have contained, I began to give this little tale a lot more import. I began to ask myself questions. This was 1910, my grandparents were immigrants from Italy, newcomers to America, they were poor, had seven children. What did my aunt expect Santa to leave under the tree for them? Surely it wouldn’t be something from the store. And what about my grandparents, quietly peeking over and over again, waiting for that child to fall asleep, then gently removing her from the parlor to her bed, without ever waking her, so she could arise on Christmas morning to find delights under her tree.

What might have been tenderly wrapped and placed under that tree for those seven little children? My grandmother was an excellent seamstress. (I still have doll clothes to prove that). Perhaps she fashioned presents for them with her own hands. Surely she couldn’t have afforded to go to the general dry goods store and purchase fabric. But flour, sugar, grains, and seeds all came in cloth bags. She would have bleached away the stenciled on lettering and have a wonderful homespun length of fabric from which to create a present for each child. Perhaps a shirt for the two boys. Would the girls receive a petticoat , a nightgown, or an apron?

All of these articles of clothing were absolute necessities in those days. An apron, I would think, being the most necessary. In fact, I almost never saw my Grandmom without an apron on. It was important to protect their clothing from spills and spatters. Doing laundry was an all day event. There was no such thing as an automatic washer and dryers did not come on the scene until 40 years later. Laundry was hung on clotheslines in the backyard to dry – summer and winter. They did not have closets full of clothing like we do now. Nor were household chores the pristine affairs they are today, either. Clothing would get mighty spattered and stained catching a chicken from the backyard and getting him prepared to be dinner. Baking, cooking, laundry, carrying wood indoors for the stove, scrubbing floors on hands and knees, shoveling coal into the fiery furnace – all pretty messy. If clothing were not protected by aprons, the Victorian housewife might very well be doing laundry seven days a week.

Aunt Rose had confidence that there would be presents under the tree. At least one for each child. Grandmom would make sure of that, working at her foot treadle sewing machine far into the night when all the children would be asleep and her secrets would be kept safe.

What exquisite patience my grandparents had to silently watch their adventurous ten year old sitting in that hard, straight chair in the chilly front room until her head began to nod, then finally droop. Now it was safe to silently place under the tree in the front parlor the presents Grandmom made for her children to discover on Christmas morning when they ran from their beds to see what “Santa” left for them. Now it was OK, too, for Mumma to finally fall, exhausted, into her own bed until those happy squeals of delight awakened her on Christmas morning.

Comments (9)

On December 9, 2010 at 9:45 AM , First Christian Church said...

What a lovely story! :) I had an Aunt Rose too and she was always my favorite aunt because she was always joyful and just a bit different and unique. Thank you for sharing your memories and prompting my own.

blessings, ZudaGay

On December 9, 2010 at 10:18 AM , watercolors said...

Rita, love your article about Aunt Rose and embellishing with your history and addtional thoughts.
Sweet post.

On December 9, 2010 at 11:07 AM , Tricia said...

I love this story, it kinda brings to mind my own childhood (there were 6 of us) and many of our gifts were handmade by my mom. Awesome post, thank you for sharing!

On December 9, 2010 at 11:15 AM , Christie Cottage said...

What a wonderful Christmas story!


On December 9, 2010 at 12:57 PM , MYSAVIOR said...

What a heartwarming story. I have an Aunt Rose also. She is also my favorite aunt and I was a flower girl in her wedding 60 years ago.

Merry Christmas!

On December 9, 2010 at 1:17 PM , Sherri Ward said...

What a nice article, really enjoyed it, and the santas are cute!

On December 9, 2010 at 2:08 PM , nancy said...

Love the story - thanks for sharing. Thank you also for posting my Santa Pillow here.

On December 9, 2010 at 6:56 PM , Imaginuity said...

Precious! I really enjoyed reading the blog!

On December 20, 2010 at 7:54 PM , Anonymous said...

Wonderful story! Thanks for sharing!
Merry Christmas!