The Richmond Register

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November 30, 2012

‘Santy’ was on $5 budget in 1950s

Points East

PAINT LICK — When I was growing up, there in the head of Blair Branch, my younger brothers and I would commence aggravating Dad and Mom the day after Thanksgiving about Christmas.

Actually we’d worn out the pages in the Spiegel’s Christmas Catalogue weeks before Turkey Day, but we’d been under strict advice that if we so much as mentioned Christmas before Thanksgiving, we should just forget about it entirely.

But the deal was that we could pick something out of the “Santy Book,” and Mom would forward it on to the jolly old elf and he might or might not show up with it on Christmas Eve. We didn’t know it at the time, but Mom had to get her order in the mail by the end of November so the package would arrive before Christmas.  

Of course, she also put a $5 price limit on whatever we picked out because, “Times are hard and Santy’s on a budget.”

That eliminated, even in the late 1950s, more than half the stuff in the book. We couldn’t even think about a bicycle or a bb gun, but one year the nicest electric train set in the catalogue showed up under the tree with a note that read, “For Ike Reece, Eric Keith, Andy and Steve to SHARE.” To this day, I vividly remember the smell that train emitted when it was running.         

I suspected that the package actually came to the Jeremiah, Ky.,post office but I wasn’t able to verify that fact until I was in fourth grade and had taken on a GRIT, weekly newspaper route, which meant that I had to be at the PO bright and early every Saturday morning to pick up my papers.

One cold December morning, the postmaster, George Hampton, asked me to tell Mom that she had a package there that was way too large for me to be packing around on my three-mile route. “So who’s it from,” I wanted to know?  

George said. ‘Spiegel’s.” I’d harbored serious doubts about the Santa Claus ruse for two years, but this was absolute proof that the North Pole was not involved in Mom’s Christmas order. When I got home that afternoon, I told Mom about the package and she shook her head and said, “I thought George Hampton had more sense than that. And if you tell your brothers, you won’t be getting anything out of that package.”   

I figured George thought that any kid old enough to have an all-day paper route had long since figured out the Santa deal.

Anyway, I waited until after Christmas to tell brother Keeter that I knew something he didn’t. Keeter said,“If you’re talking about that Spiegel’s package I found behind the big trunks in the hall closet the day before Christmas, Mom’s already said she’ll kill us both if we tell Steve and Andy.”

To this day, it’s still hard for me to get ahead of Keeter on about anything.

Okay, now, if you want to do something good and wonderful, while the Christmas Spirit is upon you, here’s a suggestion. I have a cousin, in Letcher County, who is a very, very sick young lady right now.  She is in her early 30s, has special needs, is confined to bed and can’t even have visitors for fear of catching something else.  However, she loves to get mail and doing so is one of the few things that truly make her day.   

All you have to do to brighten up her life is send her a postcard or greeting card. She is particularly fond of Mickey Mouse and any other Disney characters. If you want to give someone who needs and so richly deserves something to smile about during this season, simply send a card to: Kristiana Banks, 264 Cross Road, Jeremiah, KY 41826.  

Also, please consider adding Kristiana to your church prayer list and maybe engaging your cohorts in the card endeavor.

I can hardly imagine anything else, so simple and inexpensive, doing so much good. I hope that you will join me in spreading some joy by making sure that Kristiana gets some mail. It could be one of the most meaningful things you do for Christmas. Lo and I are also sending her a Donald duck t-shirt (XL) and we’re looking for a Mickey Mouse ball cap. Small gifts like that would also be welcome, but, at least, please consider sending Kristiana a cute little card.

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