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Long wait for Christmas

Christmas in 1942 was a difficult one for parents with young children.  

Toys made from metals, leather and rubber were almost nonexistent because those materials were used exclusively in support of American military personnel serving in World War II. 

Travel was also hard to come by because many families had no transportation, and those who did were subject to wartime rationing of gasoline and tires. The alternative was the use of public transportation on a first-come, first-serve basis.  

I vividly remember a cold Christmas Eve when three of my siblings and I were left under the care of neighbors while our parents went Christmas shopping in Gadsden 10 miles away. They let us walk with them a quarter of a mile to the highway and, as the big bus pulled away, we stood by waving to them and calling bye.  

We were excited and hopeful that their shopping would result in a bounty of gifts under our Christmas tree the next morning. Meanwhile, we were content we would be having a daylong visit with our friends.  

Little thought was given to their absence while we were having fun playing kids’ games. However, by mid-afternoon, our attention turned to the highway for some sign of a bus. There was no sign of our parents when the sun vanished, and we could no longer see the narrow path that led through the woods to our house. 

“They said they’d be home before dark,” my older sister volunteered. 

“We need to go home and wait for them there,” I said 

“Before it gets any darker,” added my younger sibling. 

“I just want my mother to come home,” the youngest sibling chimed in. 

Walking the 100-yard path seemed more like a mile. Hand in hand, we covered the distance a step at a time until we came within view of our house. Then we dropped hands, ran to the front door and scrambled inside.  

Crawling, we found the front bedroom bed and hid under the covers.  

It was dark! It was cold! Time passed slowly as we speculated over what might have happened to our parents. We were quiet as mice when the front door opened until our father called out, “Are you kids alright?”  

“Mother, Daddy,” we answered, and rushed into their arms. “What took you so long?” we asked.  

“There were so many soldiers waiting to get home to be with their families,” our mother said. “We felt the right thing to do was give them our seats and wait for another bus.”  

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