Over the river, and through the woods...

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The year was 1971. I was 5 years old, enjoying kindergarten, sledding, and hide-n-seek. Life was good, nothing for me to worry about.

For my parents, it was a different story. Money was tight. A picture of my sister at about that time shows her in her Sunday clothes and SNEAKERS. Looking at the picture years later, Mother said, "That must have been the time when we could only afford one pair of shoes for everybody." So how to you make Christmas special when there's no cash to spend? Mothers through the ages have found all sorts of creative ways to answer that question; mine was no exception. The following account is my favourite Christmas memory, filled in by my mother where my memory is lacking.

We lived near Cooperstown, New York; my grandparents lived 50 miles north of Pittsburg, PA. This was a long way to travel then; though the new freeways made it faster, it was still too expensive to visit more than once or twice a year. I think my mother was a little homesick herself and maybe had the idea to visit for Christmas. But what about presents for three young children? There wasn't money to do both.

After talking things over with my dad, she decided to put the question to us. Do we get presents, or do we go to Grandma's? A unanimous decision to visit Grandma was quickly reached. Grandma and Grandpa were not told. It was to be a big surprise!

Grandma's big white house was nestled in the woods, down away from the road. The garage, however, was right up by the road, and Snoopy, the beagle, lived behind it. Knowing that Snoopy would bark as soon as we pulled in, Daddy decided to park our little VW bug further down. My mother tied big red bows on all of us, and we trudged through the snowy yard to the front door. We all hid in the bushes while Daddy rang the doorbell, then quickly hid, himself. Grandpa came to the door, but no one was there. After he went back inside, Daddy rang and hid, again. This time, my Grandma said for him to check the back door. Quietly, Daddy motioned all of us to gather on the front porch. He rang the doorbell, and we all began singing, "We Wish You A Merry Christmas!" How we laughed to see the astonished looks on their faces!!

My mother told me years later that my Grandpa cried. I don't remember that. Nor do I remember the question put to us as to what to do for Christmas. I only remember the warmth of my grandparents' home, the joy of being with two of my favourite people, and the excitement of being able to give them such a surprise for Christmas.

Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night!

-- Cathy N. (keeper8@attcanada.ca), December 22, 2001


Beautiful. Priceless.

-- Rick (Rick_122@hotmail.com), December 22, 2001.

Thank you SO MUCH for sharing that with us! Merry Christmas to you, Cathy and your whole family.

-- Kelly (ksaderholm@yahoo.com), December 22, 2001.

Great story Cathy. The gifts would have been LONG gone by now but the memory remains forever!

-- Melissa (me@home.net), December 23, 2001.

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