It was Christmas 1966 and we were living in middle Tennessee. My father was in Vietnam. As a young mother of five children, with me being the oldest at nine years, my mother let me help with the Christmas shopping and wrapping that year. We went to the Dollar General on the downtown square and bought toys for my younger siblings. My mother bought me a boxed jewelry set and one of those eau de toilette sets that every little girl wanted. We usually got new pajamas and new hats and mittens if we needed them. I'm sure that my baby sister got a new rattle. I felt like a grown-up keeping the Christmas secrets along with my mother.
On Christmas Eve we went to our grandparents' house. My grandparents didn't have much, but I don't remember how poor they were, just Grandma's sweet spirit and her homemade cooking and how there was always room for one more around the dining room table. My uncle, still in his teens, came in that Christmas Eve with a bag full of gifts. He emptied the sack on the table. He must have spent his entire paycheck on presents for us. There were presents for everyone and for me there was a pocketbook.
There are certain Christmas memories that always stand out. That Christmas, in 1966, is one of them.