Newspaper Archive of
The Message
Evansville, Indiana
December 20, 1996     The Message
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December 20, 1996

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Chr000000as On a very windy December 9, 1964, my new family drove me to their home that would soon become my home also. As a young adolescent, raised as an only child by my recently deceased grandmother, I was being adopted into a family with six other children of their own. (Another son was born in 19673 I had very uneasy feelings throughout the My special Christmas $1.50 to buy gifts for all the other kids, as well as for Mom and Dad. Dad took us, two at a time, during the evenings the week before Christmas to care- fully select our gifts. Sometimes, we would have our mind set on a purchase, but Dad would have to change it for us. He did, after all, have the advantage of knowing if one of he wouldn't see what we bought. We always knew he was really watching since he didn't want us being alone in the store (proba- bly because we had all that money on us!!) As soon as we got home, we had to wrap our booty and put it in a safe hiding place. Usually on Christmas Eve, we would decorate our tree and then all of us would get to put each gift and admired it, the giver would always get a kiss and a bug hug. (My brothers hated this part.) I sometimes still wonder what they did will all those 10 and 20 cent pre- sents. After the gift-giving ceremo- ny, we were allowed to eat cook- ies and play our family game until bedtime. We weren't too They tired bc Dad always open until he camera kids hel the younger read am all that Santa Mom. For years, we thq  i i:  drive to their home ll- thatwastwohours ittle did I away from my be sharecl ings, and I certain- ly had no idea what to expect when I would have all those brothers and sisters. Those first couple of weeks posed some major adjustments -- for all of us. As Christmas neared, I became even more apprehensive that I would not be sharing in my usual Christmas traditions with my grandmother. Little did I know all the won- derful traditions to be shared eventually with those seven sib- lings! Just a few days before Christ- mas Eve, we were each given the others had picked the same items. What you picked for one went for all. Some of the elaborate gifts included a fuzzy rabbit foot key chain, nail clippers, a fat candy cane, and I dare not forget, the Socko paddle, Of course, we learned to steer away from those after a couple of Christmases because when they were broken, they soon became a handy pad- dle for Morn if we got out of line. When it was time to pick out Dad's present, we always sent him to the front of the store so A night to remember I guess one of my fondest memories is the Christmas Eve my mother Came to me and said, "You can get the cookie cutter out and find the colored sugar, as we are going to make the Christmas cookies now. I think you are old enough to help me bake and decorate them." While I was busy doing this, she was busy getting the old coal range crackling hot. I knew this was going to be an exciting evening. With the cook- ies all decorated with the red and green sugar and baked golden brown, I knew there still would be a lot to do this Christmas Eve. My father and two brothers returned from the woods with the huge evergreen they had cut down. The tree was so big they could hardly get it into the par- lor, and it looked to me like the most perfect Christmas tree I had ever seen -- like something from a story book. I begged them to please let me help put on the ornaments. "I won't break any," I pleaded. My father handed me the can- dles that clipped onto each branch, and as he held me up with his big, strong arms, promised that I could place the big white angel on top. After this magic moment, we all gathered around the huge old player piano and sang Christ- mas carols. This was truly a night to remember. Ella M. Combs Evansville know o the wonderful traditions to evet00t0000lly with those seven siblings! - tie our presents for each other and hard to coax into bed since we learned to Mom and Dad under the tree. were very anxious for Santa to and actually Morn and Dad would put one come the next morning, gifts that gift under the tree that was for In the first few years I came time I left all of us (always a game that we into this household, the girls all Now, the all could play.) There was lots of slept in one bedroom, the boys put up the tree guessing going on throughout in the other. We laid awake for Eve arrives. the afternoon of what might be what seemed like hours talking away from home in all those packages, about what Santa might bring has grown to 31, After dinner, we all had to us. gather each yea have our baths and be in our When it seemed that we had Dad's for pajamas before we could open hardly slept, one of the boys mas Eve. I don't the presents. That was probably always came to get up to tell us us will ever miss the only night of the year that that Santa had come and gone. I Morn did not have to fuss at any We would all sneak down the ories of one of us about getting out of the steps very quietly t peek under only one will bathroom to give another one a the tree. gift I have ever turn! We would wait as long as we 1964  when When all were ready, we'd could to wake Morn and Dad to becoming a p gather in the living room around open presents but usually by call mine. our large, round coffee table. 5 -- 6 a.m., we just couldn't wait Dad would start passing out the any longer. presents to each of us and the paper-tearing commenced! With all the excitement going on, Morn always said we were so loud she couldn't believe the roof was still on. Our last gift to open was always the "family" gift from Morn and Dad. We all shared in opening it. Once all the kids were done opening their gifts, Morn and Dad would then open their pre- sents from us. As they opened "Where customers send their Open nightly hGP & OLD US 231 SOUTH . JASPER, IN 1-800-93 Golden Lyre Records Proudly Presents Keith Wells' Newest Recording A beautiful tribute to the Blessed Virgin featuring Hail Mary, Gentle Woman, Schubert's Ave Maria Hail Holy Queen Gounod's Avd Maria, Immaculate Mary... and many morel Still Available I Believe In Miracles Featuring On Eagle's Wings Prayer of St. Francis Hosea Here I Am, Lord, Be Not Afraid... and many more I. Mail check or money order with the form below: Not Sold in Stores Make check or money order payable to: Golden Lyre Records. RO. 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