Joy with Diane Dean White
"A White Christmas"
The fifties was a time when so much was changing in our country. Many men had recently returned from WWII, and jobs were available with so much progress starting up, and new ideas booming everyday. I was in awe of our first television set. The screen was hardly more than 12” wide, but the wood that surrounded it was a beautiful polished oak. The only shows I recall were “I Love Lucy”, “Howdy Doody” and the shampoo and soap commercials.
The house where I grew up was a large older home that sat on a street with a sorority house on one corner and a fraternity house on the other. We lived across from the main entrance to Michigan State College (now University). My parents rented rooms to students, and we made some interesting friends from other states. The dividends were reaped in years to follow, as many of those students stayed in touch with Mom and Dad, and would often visit them, or invite them to their homes.
During the Christmas holiday we had the house to ourselves, college was over and the guys, who stayed with us, went home to their own families. As soon as it was “just us” again, we went to the tree farm and cut down a Christmas tree to take home. The lights were the size of large eggs, and we always used silver tinsel and some homemade ornaments. We had a star for the top of the tree and after decorating it; we’d turn off the living room lights, step back and look up at the beautiful Christmas tree. There were no gifts around the tree at that time; they usually appeared a night or two before Christmas, so not tempt young eyes and hands from checking the contents. My favorite time was early morning when it was still dark and I would creep down stairs to plug in the tree lights. I’d just sit next to the tree in my nightgown and robe and watch the lights and enjoy the quiet of the early morning, with anticipation of what Santa would soon bring.
A trip to the city and a favorite large department store where children stood in line for a special visit with Santa was always a favorite adventure. After telling him our hearts desires, we’d get a candy cane from Santa’s elf and return to Mother sharing our talk with jolly old St. Nick. Christmas in the city was thrilling. There were streets of stores and red kettles with volunteers ringing bells to donate change to help others. Even the Peanut Man appeared and would walk up and down the busy sidewalk with samples that drew people to the popular store with the wonderful smell. Clerks were dressed up, many men wore bow ties, and there were a variety of special sales going on, with music that filled the air at every turn.
A memory I will never forget is the night we went to see the new movie “White Christmas.” We took the bus after Dad got home, and rode the 30 minute ride to the city. After looking at all the decorative window displays on the main street, we walked to the movie theatre and watched the movie on the large screen. It hadn’t snowed a lot that year, and this was a few days before Christmas. After the ending song “White Christmas” that became so popular, we left with a happy feeling from the movie we had just seen. Upon entering the outside, which we assumed would be a dark evening; we were welcomed by the glitter and beauty of a fabulous Winter Wonderland! It must have snowed hard during the long film, and with the excitement of the special movie and the freshness of the new white snow; it was like a magical scene I’ll never forget.
A number of years have gone by since that time, and although many memories stand out and are remembered with fondness, there is something about that night, and our family together that has remained in my heart since. Whenever I see a rerun of “White Christmas”, or hear the song, my mind goes back to a time in the 50’s when simple things were somehow the best of all. I thank God for the memories that were stored in the heart of a very young girl so long ago.
“May your days be merry and bright; and may all your Christmases be White”
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