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  • Doug K.

Guest Post: My Mother at Christmas

A true story of my mom, my grandparents and a Christmas that would always be remembered.

My mother, Louise King Kretzer was born in 1928. She was raised in the small coal mining town of Van Lear, KY and has been a lifelong resident there. Her parents, Jim and Martha King, raised seven children of their own plus a nephew and at times a grandson and others. They were poor, no doubt, but so were most everyone in the little town.

During the Great Depression Jim held a halfway secure job as janitor of the Van Lear schools. He also raised large gardens , a cow, hogs and chickens. All were a must to feed and clothe the family.

My mother at seven years old wanted a doll for Christmas. The money for one would be hard to spare. Her sister nearest in age to her was twelve years older so any doll remnants of hers were long gone. Pleading to her mom Louise broke into tears. All her friends had dolls. Her older sisters had them as kids. Still there was hardly any money to spare.

Christmas Eve morning arrived and Louise’s eye were red and swollen from wanting a doll for play. Her mom could not budge because of the money - or lack of it - situation. Finally Jim looked at his wife “Marthy, get her a baby doll!” Martha just stared off into the air. She really had wanted to get one but…

As the day rolled on and it was nearly noon she contacted Consolidated Coal Company’s store in the town. “When your delivery truck goes out today have me a baby doll wrapped and deliver it to our house. Skip bringing us any fruit or nuts.” She had figured out as best she could a solution.

Late that evening the company store’s delivery truck dropped off a package wrapped in brown paper and tied with a string. The package was placed under the little decorated cedar tree. By its lonely presence there it wasn’t hard to see. Louise went to bed that night with visions of sugar plums dancing in her head and dreamed of opening her gift the next morning… early!!

Early Christmas morning Jim had the fires all going and Martha had fixed a fine breakfast. Louise gulped her breakfast down in anticipation of an early opening of her baby doll. After many delays (on purpose) it could not be put off any longer. Martha sat down in her rocking chair in front of a blazing fire and lit her clay pipe. Jim walked over, took the small package and handed to Louise. “This is for you, honey.”

Louise was shaking so hard she could hardly pull the bow loose on the string. “Why did they have to use so much paper?” she wondered.

Finally it was all unwrapped. Jim’s eyes were watering. They did not water near as much as Louise’s did as she looked at the unwrapped ten pack of Red Horse Chewing Tobacco that had mistakenly been delivered to the wrong home. Jim cried. Louise cried. Martha puffed her pipe, rocked and just smiled.

“How can you sit there, Marthy, and laugh at that little thing while she cries so hard?”

Martha just puffed her pipe and chuckled. “I’m not laughing at her, Jim. I was just thinking of that poor old coal miner who by now has unwrapped his Christmas gift.”

Guest post by Doug K.

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