My best childhood Christmas memories go back to 1934 through 1937 in Morgantown, W.Va.
We were living at 81 Sheldon Ave., a large house with a finished basement, first and second story and a finished attic. The "we" were my great-grandmother, born in 1852; her son, Grandad and his wife, known as Nana; my Aunt Polly and her son Bob; my unmarried uncle Dick; and my mother, Ena, and my two sisters and myself, JoAnne, Janet and Jeanne. My mother and Aunt Polly were divorced.
Christmas was our favorite holiday. Morgantown, W.Va., mines coal, so we burned coal for heat. We had two fireplaces, one in the living room and one in the dining room with grates for burning coal.
Each Christmas we wrote out letters to Santa, the younger children with help. We put each letter into its own envelope and addressed it to Santa Claus at the North Pole. About a week before Christmas, at night with coal burning in the fireplace, we each held our letter over the burning coals - the draft took it from our hands and up the chimney. It would go on its way to the North Pole.
It's strange when I think about it, but none of us kids ever found the letters outside.
We did not go to the store to see Santa because he wasn't there. They had men dressed as Santa who were known as Santa's Helpers. Santa was in the North Pole with his elves making toys.
Dickens' "A Christmas Carol" was on the radio for two or three nights. No, there was no TV then, but we had to use our imagination to visualize what the actor/actress was talking about.
Before we went upstairs to bed we hung our stocking from the mantle and left hot chocolate and cookies for Santa.
A large bare tree stood in the corner of the living room. The tree decorations were in boxes for Santa to decorate the tree. Santa did more than he does now.
n Janet Woodruff was born in Morgantown, W.Va. She lived in California for 50 years before moving to Carson City on May 19, 2002.