One baby boomer’s fondest memory of Christmas past

Christmas is not just about the day. It’s about memories of Christmas days gone by. For Alex Davie of Forsyth County, Georgia, this Christmas reminded him of the best Christmas ever. We hope you have one of those in your own memory.

It was Christmas, 1958, and I was eight years old. We were living in Lake Oswego, Oregon, a suburb of Portland. Normally, Mom and Dad would sprinkle a few little presents under the tree prior to Christmas Eve and then place the rest of the presents overnight so that on Christmas Day, it would look like Santa had been there and placed them himself.

Unwrapping Christmas gifts.

Another tradition, in our family, was that we got to open one present on Christmas Eve.

Before I went to bed, on this particular Christmas Eve in ‘58, as I placed the glass of milk and the plate of cookies on a table next to the fireplace, I noticed that the area underneath the tree was bare. I was puzzled by this and asked Mom and Dad if we were going to open a present tonight. They said, “No, not tonight. We will wait on Santa Claus, this year, to deliver the presents and we will open all the presents tomorrow.”

Alex Davie with his sister Diane and father at Disneyland.

As usual, I woke up early on Christmas Day, raced down the hall into the living room, and was shocked and confused to see nothing underneath the Christmas tree except a plain white envelope. It was addressed to my younger sister and me. I woke up my sister and took her down the hall into the living room and showed her the envelope. She was too young to grasp the enormity of no presents and just a plain white envelope under the tree.

Disneyland long ago … Alex with his mother and sister.

I stayed in the living room, fidgeting and pacing until I could not take it anymore and went down the hall into Mom’s and Dad’s bedroom and woke them up. Back in the living room, my sister and I waited anxiously as our parents slowly got ready and came into the living room. When they got there, they told us to wait while they got some coffee going and meandered about in the kitchen. Meanwhile, I was consumed with curiosity about the single white envelope and dogged their every move in the kitchen, thinking I could get them to hurry up. Finally, as the tension built up to a fever pitch in my eight-year-old child’s body, they came back to the living room, coffee cups in hand, stood there in their robes and said “Merry Christmas! Go ahead and open the envelope.”

Alex Davie, age 8, at Disneyland.

I carefully opened it and read what was printed in my Dad’s handwriting. It said, “This Certificate is good for admission to Disneyland and the Rose Bowl where the University of Iowa will play the University of California for the championship.”

I cut loose into a jumping, happy, hooting and hollering boy when I read the word DISNEYLAND. I started running around the living room, joyously happy. Disneyland had opened three years earlier and all of my friends knew about it but to us, as kids in Oregon, it was a far-off magical place. A place where none of us could ever be lucky enough to go.

But now, that was about to change!

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6 Comments

  1. Enjoyed your anecdote from the times you could call Christmas “Christmas.” Loved the part about waking the parents up…(why did they always take so long??) Keep posting these; you may have missed your calling.

    1. Am guessing that it will always be Christmas for our childhood memories, no matter the passing fads we experience as adults…it must be a universal truth that all parents dwawdled and futzed about while we, as kids, pestered them and paced about waiting so long for them to give the go-ahead to open the presents on those early morning Christmases…thanking you for the kind words of encouragement

  2. Your endearing photos are a story in themselves of a time when men dressed in suits and women wore dresses and heels for Disneyland!

    1. Unearthing those photos was a minor Christmas Miracle…the photos do recall an earlier time when we all “dressed up” for special occasions…later on, when we kids started flying commercial with Mom and Dad, I always wore a suit and tie and we were on our best behavior…glad you enjoyed the look back the photos provided

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