By in Holidays

Childhood Christmas Memories from the Early 1960s

Living alone, and most family not living in the same town or city, makes the holiday season much like any other day or season to me. Of course, if I make my way out of my cocoon, I cannot escape the commercial overload.

That is something that does not bode well with me, though I must admit I love the bargains I find, and save many of them for giving throughout the year when it is least expected.

But here I am eight days before the Christmas holiday and I am feeling a bit nostalgic. Perhaps, I have told a portions of these recollections before. I apologize, in advance, for repeating myself.

Opening gifts

I knew many classmates in my school whose family tradition was to open all gifts on Christmas morning. Our family tradition was that we opened all the gifts under the tree, when the house was filled with people at our Christmas Eve Open House that my parents hosted.

As our guests--family and friends--made their way home for the evening and the house became quiet. The lights on the tree seemed magical, as they reflected on the garland and tinsel on the tree. Christmas carols played on the phonograph, and the anticipation was now of Santa coming in a few hours.

I found it so difficult to get to sleep, wanting to stay up to meet the jolly old elf face-to-face. We also knew that there would be a present or two from Santa (never wrapped) under the tree and our stockings would be filled until the seams looked like they would pop.

1960 to 1963 were the best

My memories of the Christmases from 1960 to 1964 are my most vivid. The first four of these years' holiday seemed happiest, perhaps because I was still innocent and had not yet felt the sting of life's realities.

My brother, Mark, was nearly two years old in 1960. My sister, Sonja, arrived on scene in late 1962, when I had just turned seven. I think that Christmases 1962 and 1963 were my favorite two years, because life seemed much happier in my family early on in the 60s. Our family grew and there were two more sisters--Erika and Tanya--to arrive in 1966 and 1969.

Presents and the stockings

Today my thoughts bring me to memories of Christmas mornings 51 to 55 years ago, running down the stairs, still in our pajamas, and so excited to see what Santa left under the tree for us and interacting as only families can do:

--My walking doll which was about eight inches shorter than I was.
--My first record player, and my first LP, "Mr. Ed: Straight from the Horse's Mouth" in 1962.
--Mark claiming his presents "were better" than mine, followed by my throwing down the gauntlet of sibling rivalry, and each of us relentless in arguing back-and-forth about the veracity of one another's declarations.
--Accepting Mark's challenge to a duel with his "Rock'em Sock'em Robots." It was the only time it was acceptable to "knock your block off!"
--Sonja sitting on my lap as we undressed and dressed our dolls; hers were baby dolls, mine were Barbies. I was so happy to have a "baby sister" and loved her so much.
--My first bicycle, a Schwinn Sting-Ray with the banana seat...and training wheels.

My fondest memories of those mornings are taking the stockings down from the mantel to find all the goodies and extras that Santa picked out just for us:

--An orange, apple and pear, and almonds, walnuts, hazelnuts and Brazil nuts.
--Coloring books and new crayons.
--Candy cigarettes.
--Paddles with a red ball on the end of a rubber-band string. I never mastered the technique, and before the end of the year, my mother usually had her paddles for spanking.
--Metal spinning noisemakers with pictures of Santa or Rudolph.
--Necco candy rolls. I was happy when I saw my first roll that was all chocolate.
--Bottles of "toilet water" that I did not understand how they could get to smell so nice.
--Can of Pick Up Stix.
--ChocoMint Life Savers.
--Old Maid, Go Fish, and Rummy card games.
...and so many other toys and candy that have long been forgotten.

Things changed in 1964

Christmas 1964 is one of my most vivid, though one of my saddest. It was the year that Mrs. Bereman, my fifth grade teacher from First Lutheran School, told us all to "remind our siblings that Christmas was about the birth of the baby Jesus," even though she did tell us that we did not need to tell them that our parents were Santa Claus. She did this right before dismissing us for the holiday break.

I may have been the only one in my fifth grade class who still believed in Santa. I know that a couple of years earlier, people made fun of me for believing. I never believed them when they told me there was no Santa. I would argue with them, but this was different. This was my teacher who said it.

I did not know what to do. When my mother picked me up from school, I wanted to talk to her about it, but was afraid that she would be upset with me and I would not be allowed to celebrate Christmas. So, I kept my knowledge a secret, still not wanting to believe what my teacher had said to be true. That year, I maintained the charade, but it was the year that innocence was lost.

A few months later

It was not until February of 1965 that I asked my mother if she and my father were Santa. She said it was true, and I told her that I had known for the last two months. She asked me not to tell my brother and sister, and I agreed.

Feeling a deep sense of loss, I turned to walk out of the kitchen, trying to absorb the bitter truth. I stopped and turned around. And in one last grasp to hold onto childhood as I knew it, I quietly asked: "Mommy?"

I feared asking the next question. "Are you and Daddy the Tooth Fairy and the Easter Bunny, too?"

And she simply nodded...

1965 was the year that the sparkle of the lights was extinguished for me, and Christmas began to lose its magic.

* * * * * * * * * *

Copyright © 2015 Coral Levang, and not to be used without permission. May be shared, if properly credited and linked back to this source

- - - - -

Image Credit » by Gellinger

You will need an account to comment - feel free to register or login.


markgraham wrote on December 17, 2015, 8:25 PM

You have a lot of good memories to go along with the bad. Some of the things you mentioned I also had like the game of pick up sticks and others. I was the baby and I remembered telling my sister my presents were also better than hers. I still believe that there is a spirit of Santa Claus still around spreading magic all around.

DWDavisRSL wrote on December 17, 2015, 8:50 PM

I remember those Christmas mornings when I was small and we'd come down the stairs into the flood lights of my folks' Bell & Howell 8 mm movie camera.

CoralLevang wrote on December 17, 2015, 9:16 PM

I don't remember an 8mm. We didn't have those...but how about the Brownie Hawkeye? LOL My first camera.

MegL wrote on December 17, 2015, 9:38 PM

I remember my younger sister telling me the "truth". emoticon :sad: But I also later found out about the newspaper article "Yes Virginia, there IS Santa Claus". I found the magic back when my children arrived. When they saw the Christmas tree lights for the first time at about 18 months of age. emoticon :grin:

CoralLevang wrote on December 17, 2015, 9:51 PM

My one and only....was not as enamored with the idea of the holidays. I should have had more than one.

crowntower wrote on December 17, 2015, 10:45 PM

I guess for a child it is a sad truth.. but for my cousin and I it is cool to know who Santa is... There are lots of good memories to remember and it is all blessing form God. But as I grow old and understood what Christmas is makes me more amaze and thankful, knowing there is a man who will protect me and will never turn his back on me when everyone will and when every things fails. I am so thankful that He is patiently stick on my side no matter how many times I had my tantrums... and no matter I go against his plans he never fails to listen and understand and put me back on my tracks. the truth about Christmas makes our lives more meaningful and precious to see the majesty of heaven comes down to save us all.. to have a great future and a great resting place when everything is done.

wolfgirl569 wrote on December 17, 2015, 10:52 PM

I remember many of those presents too and some are no longer allowed like the candy cigarettes. Hold onto the happy memories.

bestwriter wrote on December 17, 2015, 11:06 PM

Situations do not remain the same. I can say my childhood Christmas was the best as we valued everything that came our way which is not the case now. We take a lot for granted now.

CoralLevang wrote on December 18, 2015, 12:09 AM

Yes, many good memories, and it sounds like special times for you. emoticon :smile:

CoralLevang wrote on December 18, 2015, 12:10 AM

We were kept busy by some of the simplest things in those days.

CoralLevang wrote on December 18, 2015, 12:11 AM

I loved the flavor of them. They are the only cigarettes I smoked. emoticon :smile:

CoralLevang wrote on December 18, 2015, 12:13 AM

Many take LIFE itself for granted.

bestwriter wrote on December 18, 2015, 12:23 AM

The whole scenario has changed. Even if gifts are exchanged no one will come back and tell you how they liked. Life is sad emoticon :sad:

CoralLevang wrote on December 18, 2015, 12:26 AM

I disagree. Life is not sad. That some of the people in this world are as they are is sad...for them.

Paulie wrote on December 18, 2015, 12:38 AM

I really enjoyed reading this post and it brought back a lot of memories I had as a young boy celebrating Christmas. While I believed in Santa, presents could not be opened until Christmas morning.

bestwriter wrote on December 18, 2015, 12:55 AM

This sadness that I am talking about is in the context of lack of gratitude.

DWDavisRSL wrote on December 18, 2015, 9:05 AM

I remember my mother had a Brownie Camera but I'm not sure what model.

wolfgirl569 wrote on December 18, 2015, 9:39 AM

Now know they had to be taken off the market because they encouraged kids to smoke. You just had to prove them wrong lol

CalmGemini wrote on December 18, 2015, 1:55 PM

Really enjoyed reading your memories.good and not so good.Thank you for sharing.

CoralLevang wrote on December 19, 2015, 10:06 AM

I just posted on my blog more memories.

CoralLevang wrote on December 19, 2015, 10:07 AM

I posted something on my blog you might find enjoyable. More memories and a video,