That year we spent Christmas in Illinois with Uncle Howard and Auntie Patty and their children, Bruce, Cindy, Karen and Craig. As you can imagine, this was a devastating time for us. Mom was, understandably, depressed and trying to deal with the heartache that accompanies such events.

I don’t recall anything that happened leading up to Christmas morning, but I will never forget that day. The girls were all sleeping in one room and the boys in another. The girls woke up early and whispered out into the hall to see if the boys were awake. When we realized everyone was awake we schemed to wake up Uncle Howard and Auntie Patty. It must have been very early. They told us to go back to sleep. When our giggles were more than could be contained, they called us into their bedroom where we all knelt down for family prayer. This singular event was so awesome. Uncle Howard humbly reminded us--all that we possessed was a gift from our Heavenly Father--and expressing our gratitude before opening our presents was mandatory. Only then were we allowed to go downstairs where the tree was. I was ten years old and am not sure what I expected, but never did I expect what actually happened.

Sitting on the couch right where we could see it when we went downstairs was a bride doll that walked. One for each of us and a princess dress for each of us that my Mom had made. Mine was gold brocade with black netting ruffled on the straps.

Uncle Howard and Auntie Patty had made sure that we did not feel left out. We got just as much Christmas as their children received and more than anything, we were loved and we knew it. That probably did more to save my delicate psyche than anything else. My good mother made sure I knew that they had done this and I can never thank them enough for their kindness and love.


This is a wonderful memory. I'm so curious now about the background of your family at the time, your mother and why your aunt and uncle were playing santa for you and your siblings. What a wonderful tradition to start Christmas morning with family prayer.

My parents were going through a tragic divorce. My mother had no career, no education, nothing to fall back on. Her story is a truly heroic one.

What a touching account of Christmas. Since I was only 6 I don't remember any of that so thank you for adding to my memories.
I do know that I loved being around your family no matter how young or old I was. You had so much fun as a family and it made an impression on my young mind.
I'm looking forward to seeing my dad again some day and thanking him for all he did for me and so many others.
thanks for keeping in touch! Say hi to Lee for me.