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The Electric Train and the Red Bicycle

Laura LoweT’was the night before Christmas, and there were no mice to be a-stirring. Our huge, yellow, tabby cat, Jessie, took care of that. Daddy had a roaring fire going in the fireplace. My brother and I were happy beyond description at the excitement of it all. The whole house smelled of evergreen. Daddy had cut bright green boughs and a large Christmas tree earlier that day. He was busy hanging the holly wreaths over the mantle and around the wall. Smells also wafted in from the kitchen where Momma was roasting the turkey and cornbread dressing for Christmas dinner. The dinning room table held a coconut cake, a pound cake, and several apple pies — the results of a day of baking. Momma’s fruit cakes had been baked several weeks before. They were covered in whiskey, wrapped tightly, and packed in a tin box.

My brother, Yancy Jr., had turned nine on the 11th of the month. I was ten. It was 1955 in South Central Alabama. In Montgomery, Alabama, just to the north of the farming community where we lived, the Bus Boycott was going on. Momma worried about her brother and his family, who were involved in it. My parents were concerned, but did not want it to spoil their children’s Christmas. They had dressed in their best clothes and gone to Fort Deposit to see “Santa,” they said. Yancy Jr. and I did not have a clue what Santa was going to bring us. Momma and Daddy said Santa would not come to bring the toys until we had gone to sleep.

After supper, the family decorated the Christmas tree. This was the first year the tree had electric lights on it. I put my dolls under the tree so Santa would see that I had taken care of what I had gotten the year before. Yancy danced around Daddy as he put the star on the tree.

“Daddy, is Santa going to bring me an electric train?” he asked.

I was very interested in how Santa was going to get down the chimney with that huge fire in the fireplace. “He will come in the front door this year,” Momma told me.

The next morning, my brother and I were up when the Rooster crowed. We made a beeline for the Christmas tree. Yes, brother got his electric train, and standing at the back of the tree was a shiny, new, red bicycle for me. It was a complete surprise. I know now that Daddy had worked most of the night assembling it. He never ever realized it was a boy’s bike. I didn’t care. That bike and I traveled all over those dirt, country back roads having all sorts of adventures. They are all gone now, but the memories often resurface like the morning mist, and I never forgot that wonderful holiday encapsulated on a frosty, cold day in South Central Alabama.

Lit fireplace and Christmas tree
Photo by Fotolia/luckybusiness