What My Mother Said about the Christmas She Got a Doll
From the Memoir of Laura Mae Dunscombe Baker, Born December 6, 1926
Recorded by Jacki Kellum
If you have read other of this series of posts, you will remember that my mother actually said what I will share:
“Some of this you might have heard before, but since I don’t know, I’ll proceed as though you’ve never heard.
“For most of the Christmases that I remember, we spent at Grandma Dunscombe’s—that is, we three kids did. So Christmas meant pleasurable times for us. Grandma always had a big house and all of the grandkids would be there at some time during the holidays. Us, we stayed for days, if not for weeks….
“Some of our city cousins would come from St. Louis and Illinois but they rarely stayed but a couple of days…[One of my St. Louis uncles] Usually made fair money and always gave me a quarter for Christmas…[His wife] gave me a diary EVERY year. I wrote in the thing religiously for a month and that was usually the end of that. They had 2 boys but we were never around them enough to learn to love them….
“Well, I’ve slept, eaten 2 or 3 times (sadly), been to church and now I’m ready to continue.
“I got to thinking after I hung up last night some more about Christmas. As I said there were lots of grandkids there, so there were stockings everywhere to be filled before THE morning. Looking back, I’m sure my aunt did most of this. We were never disappointed. Each stocking would be filled: 1 orange, 1 apple, nuts and candy. I’d say 2 handfuls of candy, max. Of course, my cousin was the only one who ever got big toys. It was his home, and his was the only working mother in the family. I always think that Moms spend more on such frivolity. But I can’t ever remember being envious. Isn’t that amazing? It is even to me. I was as thrilled in what he got, I think as he was. He was a pretty unusual fellow though. Never selfish with his things.
“I remember when he got his first bike and I think it must have been the same year my mother died because I was there most of the time. Mother had come home from the sanatorium to die and was, as you mentioned, bedded down there at Grandma’s. …
“But somewhere during this time, my cousin taught me to ride that bike. I nearly tore down all the fences holding on as I tumbled down. I was not known for athletic ability, not then nor now. I thought learning to ride a bike was the hardest thing I ever did. Consequently, I never learned to be a good bike rider.
“On the other hand, your Dad was a master at it. He always lived in town with sidewalks and lots of freedom. So when he got a bike, it became his world. He and a boy from his neighborhood…spent hours on end at the school riding. Hank could do all the tricks you’ve seen on bikes: dipping way to one side and righting—doing a partial stand up on the thing and just lots of smooth riding things. …
“But he was a curiosity in the ways of the world at that time. Lots of hours with no supervision. He would take his fishing pole and go to the ditch for the day. Maybe take a sandwich. And this was when he was very young. No one worried that he would get in trouble and he didn’t. No one worried that he would fall lin the ditch and drown. They had complete confidence in his ability. That is where I and most mothers have failed your generation. We wanted to apply close supervision on everything you did to be sure you did it to our specifications. I can see that now, 100 years after the fact.
“There is only one other thing I want to add about Christmas. One time, probably the last Christmas mother was living, she (Santa Claus) gave my sister and me a stunning doll—really beautiful rubber doll. That’s the only time I ever recall that we ever got much of anything from them but there again that may be the fault of my memory rather than their neglect. I played my doll to death because I was younger than my sister, but she had hers until her daughter came along. And that was a long time. The whole doll was rubber except it had a hard head with ingrown hair. I can see it now.”
I have begun to collate some of the things that my 88-year-old mother has said, over the years.
In 2002, I asked her some questions. I have begun a 3-Way Memoir, where I’ll record some of my mother’s responses. I hope to have the memoir published for my mother’s 90th birthday on December 6, 2016. It will be my grandmother’s story, my mother’s story, and mine–all told from our lives in the Bootheel of Southeast Missouri.
Copyright Jacki Kellum October 17, 2015
All Rights Reserved