A Christmas Story
by Martha Miranda Miller 2000

I graduated from high school in 1952. In our junior years we could buy the school sweater and in our senior years, the school class ring. I was raised in the war years, and we were poor, and I never knew a day that my Mama did not work raising us three kids, two boys and a girl. Daddy was usually drunk! We had ration stamps during world war II to every week turn in at the grocery store for a bag of flour, milk, oleo, and one bag of sugar. We had just come through the depression, and in those days, there was not the welfare you see today, or the places to get help, and we raised rabbits, chickens, had a big garden, and that is how we survived. Our potato soup was made with water, not milk, and bacon grease, not the bacon. Daddy always got the bacon for his lunch bucket.

I started working at 14 in an ice cream dairy, and Mama was busy mortgaging the house every year to send my older brother through college, and there was just never enough money. There was no money for me to get my school sweater. I still tear up thinking about that sweater. Home was a bummer, Mama always working, Mama and Daddy always fighting. I needed that sweater. I cried, and I cried, and I begged and I begged, and I never stopped crying real tears because I could not have that sweater. We were denied so much, and at least I thought I should get that sweater. Mama said, NO! So I cried. I just couldn't see how she could not spare a lousy fourteen dollars. But in those days, milk was only fifty cents a gallon, so that same fourteen dollars would buy twenty eight gallons of milk! But I couldn't see it. I wanted that sweater more than anything in the world. I didn't like milk anyway!

We always had just blue lights on our Christmas tree, every year, and we always had a tree, and always had something underneath the tree, and Mama always bought games that we could play, like monopoly, and puzzles. Boy we got the puzzles. But come this one Christmas, underneath the tree was a good sized box wrapped so pretty, that said, Martha, not the kids, or not Joe, Jimmy & Martha, just Martha. When I opened up the box, there was my high school sweater with my name on it and a big embroidered K for Kenmore High, a beautiful black and red cardigan sweater. Mama had gone to the company that made the sweaters and had to pay so much more to get me that sweater and have it special made almost a year later. I have never, never forgotten the love that came with that sweater. I still have the little blue bells that hung on that Christmas tree 48 years ago. Mama is with the LORD now, she passing on at 84 years old several years ago. I myself am now 66 years old, but I have never forgotten the special love that came in a Christmas box, just a sweater, but what a sweater.

P.S. And did the LORD ever get me a good one in that sweater! It was pure wool, and itched, and itched, and itched, and it was so, so heavy. I wore it only a couple of times because of its weight and its itch! Boy if anyone wants to know if the scripture that says, "Vengeance is mine. I will repay, saith the LORD", is the truth, just ask me! Early in my thirties, someone at Goodwill really got a heavy, warm, itchy sweater! And of course, I never told Mama!

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