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Hope Ramsay's Christmas Memories
When I think about Christmastime memories, I don’t think about presents I may have gotten that either thrilled or disappointed. I think about Christmas carols and trimming the tree and our big family dinner on Christmas Eve.
My parents didn’t put all that much emphasis on presents. For one thing, my parents were of mixed religious backgrounds. Mom was Christian and Pop was Jewish, and we kids were raised as Unitarians. For another, my mother grew up on a farm in South Carolina during the Depression, so her idea of Christmas gifts was very different than what folks think about today. We had a secular Christmas in our house but the emphasis wasn’t on a big pile of gifts.
Aunt Annie would always give me a box of handmade dresses, many of them hand-smocked. She was quite a seamstress, and I loved the dresses she made for me. I wore them all through grade school.
When I was older, my father would give me records or books he thought I should read. And books were a favorite gift since I was a bookworm.
I think each of my brothers and I got a bicycle when we turned twelve or thirteen. But in those days a bike was almost required transportation because there wasn’t bus service to the Junior High and my mom didn’t chauffer us around the way we chauffeured our kids these days.
I also got a stocking every year from Santa. It would always have a package of thank you notes, a box of Whitman’s chocolates, and Lillian Vernon pencils with my name on each one.
But the best thing about my stocking was the doll. There was always a doll peeking out of the top. Those dolls ran the gamut from inexpensive dime store dolls that my aunt dressed to Ginny dolls, which are much like Madam Alexander dolls. I even got a Betsy McCall doll in my sock one year.
But by far the coolest doll I ever got for Christmas was the Barbie Santa put in my stocking in 1959. I still have her. She’s in pretty good shape, too, considering how much I played with her. I hate to think how much that original Barbie is worth these days.
And you know what? Santa still puts dolls in my stocking every year. I’ve had to dedicate my small guest room as “the doll room.” It’s filled with shelves and shelves of dolls I’ve gotten as Christmas gifts over the years.
After all these Christmases I can say without equivocation that I’ve never, ever been disappointed in a doll.