Several years ago the Des Moines Register featured an article about the ‘it’ Christmas gift throughout the ages. The must haves ranged from a simple toy, the Yo-Yo, in 1929 to high-tech gadgets, the Apple iPad in 2010.
Not mentioned was the ‘it’ toy for 1946, the year of my sixth Christmas. After a bit of research, I discovered that it was either a Donald Duck camera or the Tonka toy truck.
I did not receive either of the ‘it’ gifts that year. What I did receive was a handmade child’s table and four chairs, the product of a joint effort of my mom and dad.
In the early 1940s my parents were struggling to make a living on a rented Iowa farm. Money was tight and little extra was available for store bought Christmas gifts.
Therefore, my father fashioned four chairs out of discarded orange crates and a table from scraps of lumer found around the farm. My mother sewed gathered skirts for the chairs from recycled feed sacks and created a slip-on back cover for each of the chairs. The skirt was tacked to the chair seat and several rows of rick rack were added as a bit of a flare.
Much of the work probably was completed at night when I was asleep. I can envision my father working in the cold barn sawing and hammering and my mother at her sewing machine designing and sewing the skirts for the chairs.
Upon completion she most likely was the one who applied the bright blue paint and placed them near the cook stove to dry overnight.
During my growing-up years many hours were spent at that that table either playing house or playing school. In later years it was used as a service table in my parent’s cellar for when my mother did the washing or canning – a continuous reminder of Christmas past.
Although my Christmas present of 1946 did not make the list that year it will always be my ‘it’ gift. ###