I lived in Alexandria, Va., in 1926. I was 5 years old, and my sister, Margaret, was 61Ú2.
This story is based on my memories of what we did on Dec. 24. It was always a busy day, as well as exciting, for the next morning when we woke up Santa would have been to our house.
Early on Dec. 24, after a hardy breakfast of ham, grits and eggs, my daddy and I went to find the perfect tree. We did not have to go far because right behind our house was a wooded area of pine trees. Daddy and I were something else when we set out that morning - he carried his big hatchet, I pulled my little wagon, and our two dogs tagged along. They acted as though they knew it was a special outing.
We would get all the trimmings mother wanted along with the tree. There were holly trees just overflowing with bright red berries and running pine. It is a plant that grows on the ground and has needles that look like pine needles.
We also would look and look until we found some mistletoe. Daddy would hang the mistletoe in the middle of the archway between the living room and dining room. He would wait to catch Mother under it and give her a big kiss. We would clap and tell Daddy to catch her again. Mother would take the running pine and drape it over the porch railing.
After lunch, all of us would go to the church parish hall to join the other Sunday school children. Mother would play the piano, and we would sing Christmas carols. Santa would arrive and give us a small box of hard candy and an orange. He told us to go home, be good, and go to bed early. Margaret and I did exactly what Santa told us to do, and our mother added her directions - do not giggle, and go to sleep.
Two excited little girls found going to sleep difficult, but we managed to do so. When daylight was almost appearing in the sky, a voice woke us up - we heard, "Ho, ho, ho - Merry Christmas - ho, ho, ho."
Margaret and I sat up in our beds. Margaret said that was Santa Claus. I said it sounded like Daddy. We quickly went into their bedroom to see if Daddy was there. He was. They both seemed to be sound asleep so we woke them and all of us went downstairs. Our living room was like a fairyland. Santa did a beautiful job.
The usual Christmas morning excitement continued for a while. Mother cooked a special pancake breakfast and then started to fix her wonderful dinner.
Grandma and our Aunt Eunice arrived along with cousins, aunts and uncles. My mother was one of 13 children. It was a large family. Having Grandma and Aunt Eunice with us was a real live Christmas present.
"Merry Christmas and happy new year" was repeated over and over until everyone left and there was just Mother, Daddy, Margaret and me. We were exhausted and ready for bed.
Good night to all and to all, pleasant dreams.