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Two tales of Christmases of long ago

By Jan Lawrence

Weaverville – Do you remember Christmas when you were growing up? Today’s article tells of two special gifts, a doll house and a spool bed for a bear from times when life was simpler.

Phyllis Griffin’s love of doll houses started the Christmas of 1938, when she was eight. Several weeks before Christmas, her father and mother banned her from the basement. The finished product, a Cape Cod style house with four rooms and a bathroom, was under the tree that Christmas (see picture).

It was painted white with a forest green roof, doors and shutters, surrounded by a white fence made of clothespins with a green gate. The roof lifted off with screen wire to hold the light bulb and cord, when plugged in made it look like the house had lights. Her mother cut pictures to decorate the walls and made a paper wreath for the door.

The furniture was handed down from one of the church members. She loved the house, spending many hours playing with it and realized if it were not for that gift, she would have had nothing for Christmas because her family was very poor. Her husband, Richard Griffith, donated both doll houses to the museum.

Another special gift was donated by Ellen Keetch. It came with its story provided in an abridged version (see picture). It was late November. People were planning for Christmas. The little girl had just turned four years old. Santas were in stores with children lined up to tell what they wanted for Christmas.

The little girl was not sure about Santa. Her older brothers told her there was no such thing; her older sister did not seem to be sure. Her mother would never answer the question; her father would say Santa lived at the North Pole where Sam McGee used to live.

Santa came to visit the school. Each child was to go up, give her name and tell Santa what she wanted. It was her turn! She went up and said, “My name is Cinderella (it wasn’t, of course).” Her teacher said, “You know that is not your name!” The little girl said, “Well, this isn’t the real Santa either. The REAL Santa would know my name and what I wanted, too!” Her actions were reported to her mother by the unamused teacher.

The day of the party Santa came back … with toys for all but one child, the little girl. The teacher said, “See what you get for not believing and lying to Santa.” The little girl said, “No one got what they asked him for so that’s okay.” More parent-teacher discussions were held.

Christmas Eve came. Not only had the little girl not told Santa what she wanted but no one else either.

Panic was setting in on both sides! Her family was worried about her insistence the REAL Santa knew. She must have felt she had made a big mistake so at 6 pm she made a call to Santa, telling him all she wanted was a bed for her bear.

The stores were closed! Down to the basement her mother and one of the brothers went. Both were very good at crafting skills. Finding thread spools, a coat hanger and some string along with a pair of pliers, they fashioned what resembled a bed with a quilt.

Christmas morning the little girl woke up and underneath her stocking, she saw the bed. It was not exactly what she had in mind, but it was a bed. She thought to herself, “Well, I really did not give him enough time and guess it’s the best he could do.” Finally, she did believe in Santa!

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