Monday, September 26, 2011

Chapter 25: Barbara's First Christmas

From the clothes that Larry and I are wearing, I assume the first two photos were taken on Christmas Eve.  I look spiffy in a red-white-and-blue patterned sweater and a white shirt with the pointy-est collar I've ever seen.  (Watch out, Barbara!)   Larry, on the other hand, looks absolutely adorable in a striped jacket and bow tie.  I imagine that First English scheduled an early-evening service featuring the youth choirs, a long-standing tradition in the Lutheran church.  I'm sure we didn't attend the late service, which probably didn't start until 11:00 p.m.

The other Christmas Eve tip-off is the still-wrapped presents under the tree.  Because of Dad's need to focus on church activities from late afternoon on, we didn't open gifts until Christmas morning.

The woman turning the pages of a book, which appears to be of little interest to the Nelson children, is Dora Donald.  An emigrant from England, Dora served as the church organist and choir director.  She was single, and, as far as I recall, had an active social life, participating in a variety of community organizations and traveling, mostly to California, to visit family and friends.  She lived in a neatly cluttered, 3-room apartment on the first floor of the Maryland Arms on 2nd Avenue North.  I visited her once on my own on Sunday afternoon.  I couldn't have been more than 6, but my parents will allowed me to walk the three blocks to her apartment on my own.

The Nelson family didn't purchase the loveliest of Christmas trees in December 1954.  Or perhaps it was given to us by a member of First English Lutheran Church.  By its misshapen form, which not even an over-abundance of tinsel can hide, it looks ready to lead us a sing-along of "I'm a Little Teapot".

Before the tree was taken down and carried out of the house, the tinsel was carefully removed and replaced into its original packaging, to be used again the following year.  It even traveled with us in 1957 from Great Falls, Montana, to Warren, Pennsylvania, and remained in use into the early 1960s.

Remember the toy gas station and light green model car, which will appear again in our next chapter.

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