My favorite Christmas

By Terry Economy | Dec 24, 2015

Christmas of 1945 will always be special with me and my memories.

World War II was over and my three older brothers, Richard, James and Christy, who were in the armed services, would soon be coming home. My mother, sister Virginia and I had spent the last two Christmases alone. My brother James had enlisted in the Navy in June 1942. The Christmas of 1942 was the last Christmas we celebrated with my two other brothers, and the last Christmas we had a live tree. Richard enlisted in the Army in January 1943. And Christy enlisted in the Marine Corps in March 1943. .

The Christmases of 1943 and 1944 were without a live tree and a few presents. On Dec. 18, 1945, a telegram from my brother James was delivered to our home stating he was being discharged from the Navy and on his way home before Christmas. My mother became so excited she burst into tears and started to hug me and my sister that we were going to have a fourth member of our family for Christmas.

The first thing she said that Virginia and I had to go to Perry's Market and buy a turkey instead of the planned chicken we were going to have for Christmas dinner. And make sure it was good size turkey because James would be hungry. On Dec. 22, 1945, James arrived home. It had been almost two years since we had seen him.

Two years to a 10-year-old boy like me was a long time. I remember him getting out of a taxi in the driveway with his uniform and duffle bag on his shoulder. We all ran outside to greet him with hugs and kisses from my mother and sister. Like the nickname my brother Richard had given me, "Sport." James picked me up with a hug and said "Good to see you, Sport," and placed his cap on my head.

Once inside our home, James pulled out a couple of wrapped Christmas presents from his duffle bag and said, "Lets place them under the tree." My mother, sister and I had this blank expression on our faces and had to acknowledge we didn't have a tree. With a smile on his face, he said "Sport and I will take care of that tomorrow morning."

Sure enough, the next morning after breakfast, with a sled that belonged to my older brothers, an axe and saw, boots and gloves, James and I walked out to the woods off Thomaston Street, where the Rockland Industrial Park is now, selected a tree, and brought it home, where my mother and sister were waiting to decorate it.

On Christmas eve, I was encouraged to leave Santa a wish list, even though I knew that there really wasn't one. One of the items I listed, besides new skates, was a model B-17 airplane. On Christmas morning, under the Christmas tree, was a large new sled with a bow wrapped around it with a note attached. The note said "Merry Christmas, Terry, Santa decided you needed a larger sled as you grow older." I was so thrilled -- the first good present in three years.

Later on in life, as we became adults, James admitted that when he saw the old sled that we used to get the Christmas tree of '42, it was his idea to get a larger sled at Crie Hardware on Christmas eve. It was the last sled I owned and I kept it into my adult years and had many pleasurable rides with my son.

That Christmas of 1945 was the last Christmas James spent with us. In 1946, he got married to Betty Doliver and had their first Christmas at their home. As I look back on my life, I've had many enjoyable Christmases with my wife, son and now with my grandsons. But Christmas of 1945 will always be my favorite. By the way, I did get the model B-17 airplane I had wished for. There was a Santa after all.

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