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~A Christmas Memory~

Dear God, This is me! Now I laid me down to sleep, I pray the Lord my soul to keep. If I should die before I wake. I pray the Lord my soul to take. Bless Mommy, and my sisters, and my baby brother. And, God could you please make Santa Claus real!

This was my prayer each night.

It was 1959, and I was 10 years old. I lived with my Mother, my 2 younger sisters and my baby brother. My father had left us and was not missed. Christmas was 2 days away but I felt no magic or joy of the season.

The people from the Welfare Office had come by and dropped off a box of used toys. My Mom told me to pick out what I wanted and wrap the rest for the younger kids. I looked through the box but there was nothing in it I wanted. It was toys for little children, nothing for me.

There was a doll. This doll would be for my youngest sister. Its hair had been cut off by the previous owner. She would not mind. She would love the doll. The skates would be for my sister who was 6. She did not know how to skate and the skates had no strapes. Old shoestrings would hold them on her shoes. There was an assortment of used cars and trucks also. My baby brother would have these. He was too young to know about Christmas, but would get the presents.

That Christmas, as the Christmas before I wanted, "A Jon Gnagy, Learn To Draw Set". I loved to draw and watched his program each Saturday morning on our barely working tv. I knew this present could never be mine. It cost $5.00. A fortune in our lives. Mom allowed me to draw on every scrap of paper she could afford to buy for me. My bedroom walls held all of my works of arts.

It was now Christmas Eve. I picked up my younger siblings at my grandmothers home after school as usual. Mom would still be at work and I needed to fix dinner for myself and my little family. Mom called and said she would be working late and I was to get the kids to bed and she would see me later. She asked me if I was getting excited about Santa Claus and Christmas. I told her NO. I was too big to believe in such things.

But, I wanted to believe. I wanted there to be a Santa Claus and I wanted him to bring presents to all the children. My young logic told me this was not going to happen. So, off to sleep that Christmas Eve with no visions of sugar plums dancing in my head.

Mom arrived home from working sometimes during the night. I did not hear her come in. She was very, very tired. She worked at the local drug store 12 hours a day. That night she stayed to clean the store for extra money. She barely made enough to feed us let alone have money for Christmas presents. It was long and hard work but tonight she was happy. Her children would have a Christmas. A Christmas like other children.

I awoke early that morning. I checked on my sisters and brother and they were still asleep, snuggled together. I walked through the kitchen into the living room looking for my Mom. She was sound asleep, on the couch, her bed. What my eyes saw next still brings tears to my eyes. A Christmas Tree, decorated to the max. Presents with beautiful paper and ribbons. There was a present for each of us.

I woke Mom and she smiled at me. She told me to open my present before the little ones awoke. You can imagine my joy when inside that box was "A Jon Gnagy, Learn To Draw Set". Not only the set but an extra package of paper. I was overcome with happiness. My Mom explained that the owner of the drug store had accepted her $.50 each week layaway for toys for us. But, by Christmas she still was short $1.50. He told her, "Merry Christmas", and gave her our toys, the tree from the store with all the decorations on it.

That Christmas in 1959 is A Chritmas Memory I shall always have. I still have the Jon Gnagy Art Book from that Christmas. It is one of my most cherished possessions.

Thank you God.

And Thank you Jon Gnagy.


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