The trees along our downtown street are lit with tiny white bulbs. I look out my third floor window and memories come floating by. I heard today a very necessary way to shop for Christmas was being resurrected this year. Layaway for Christmas.
I was 9 years old, it was the beginning of the end of the depression years. You had to drop your Christmas hints in July because money was hard to come by, therefore, my mother, like most everyone, would use the layaway plan to shop for that special day. You shopped for Christmas gifts in July, put a dollar or less down and they were held in layaway until Christmas week. From July to December you had to make a payment every week in order to have them paid off before Christmas.
My brother and I would start saving our pennies and nickels in mid-summer so we could shop for our aunts and uncles, close friends, each other and especially our mother. Come December we gathered up our change and walked downtown, about two miles to a store named Jefferson Dry Goods. In the store’s basement they had tables: one was a two cent table, one a three cent table , one a 25 cent table and if we hit it lucky there would be a penny table. We had our list, with our money pretty well figured out. We clutched our list and our money and it took us hours to spend about two dollars. Warren Buffet never felt as rich as we did on our Christmas shopping day. I remember we bought our mother a pink flowered apron off the 25 cent table. She wore that apron just about everyday. In 1937, the great flood came. The water flooded our house and washed many things blocks away. We found mother’s pink flowered apron hanging on a tree branch a block from our home. We brought it home, she washed it and continued wearing it until her death in 1941. Today the pink flowered apron hangs in my daughter’s kitchen as piece of kitchen art……and so here I am some 74 years later, having wonderful Christmas times with my children. However, I wish I could walk one more time around those tables clutching the pennies and nickels and feel the excitement and Christmas joy my brother and I felt on that shopping day, even though it was a depression Christmas- that never crossed our mind.
Don’t despair. Times are a little rough but go forth, layaways are back. Shop the best you can, choose your gifts to give with love, and maybe, just maybe it will be a Christmas you will remember when you are 84 years young.