The first Christmas I can really remember. I was three and a few months. We lived in a little basement suite where mom and dad slept on a fold out double bed couch and I had a tiny closet of a bedroom.
And the tree! I remember mom holding my hand in the evening. It must have been Christmas Eve, because we’re German and tradition has all the excitement happening the night before the big day.
We had on string of ancient electric bulbs which were on more than off because the muted glow was so pretty. But the special part of that Christmas and it’s the only one that I remember this way, was the candles. Set in reflective miniature candleholders made of thin gold and silver plated tin, each of them had a white candle about two inches high.
I want to help daddy, but mom said no, we have to be very careful with these candles.
Each was set so it wouldn’t light the branch above it on fire. As daddy lit them one after another, the flicker glow transformed the room. Mom told me years later, I couldn’t stop say pretty and beautiful in a babble of mixed English and German.
Beside the tree, a big box with lots of stamps and knotted string stood waiting to be unpacked. In fact, I remember there were two. One from each set of grandparents, both still in Germany.
Dad was never one to waste anything, so each knot was patiently worked free and the string rolled up to be used again. Pfefferkuchen(gingerbread), marzipan molded fruits (almond paste), other delicacies and Weinnacht’s (Christmas) treats came spilling out of the first one. This with some clothes for me, and sweaters for both mom and dad. I remember tears in Moms eyes. I found out later we were so poor, new clothes were a luxury.
The other one, was pure bliss for a three year old girl. My very own dolly, complete with a crib I could push around and a wardrobe my grandmother and aunt had made for her in the months before. I treasured her for years, and if I could find another like her, I’d probably buy her just for the special memory. Her name was Katja.