It was Christmas 1940. My father was in the army, my mother was working at a man’s job in a factory, and my grandmother and aunt watched over my brother, Ernie, and me. A few days before Christmas they took Ernie and me to a big toy store to see what Santa might want to bring us.
I saw what I wanted immediately! They had a doll, a forerunner for Barbie, I guess—very tall and slim, high heels, and a dress like Cinderella’s. I never moved from the spot all afternoon. The sales ladies were nice and talked a lot to my aunt and grandma. So we were all happy and excited on the way home.
Our tree wasn’t put up till just before Christmas; it was actually locked in the living room. Nobody could go in there till Christmas Eve.
On Christmas Eve, we ate our traditional Christmas dinner of potato salad and fried fish. (That’s how it was in Europe.) Then we heard a little bell telling us that the Kristkind had come. We all stormed into the living room. Ernie found his toys right away. I found some boxes with books and things, but no box with a doll. Then I saw it! On chair behind the tree, there was a huge doll , a baby with crooked arms, crooked legs, no hair, big and fat all over. I just couldn’t believe it. They all thought a baby doll would be so much nicer. Well, the only thing the doll did was lie there. I never forgot this Christmas.
Five years later, when the war chased us out of our homes, the doll was still sitting there, untouched. This was my worst Christmas ever, and I never wanted anything to do with babies ever again. Luckily I changed my mind by the time I grew up.
All our other Christmases were uneventful, and there is nothing that stands out until we came to Canada. It was our first year in Canada. We arrived here just before December—no money, no friends yet. But our sponsor took us to the United Church, and within days we had boxes of clothes for everybody, and all the food you could ask for. That was very nice of the church people. It made Christmas much better for us during a hard time.