When we were very young, probably in the 4-6 yr. old range or thereabouts, Mother informed us one wintry day before Christmas that Santa would be late that year. She also informed us that Santa had found it necessary to recruit Ezra the Mailman to deliver our package that Santa had arranged to be sent from Monkey Ward. We were disappointed, of course, but full of wonder and anticipation over what bounteous gifts we would get when Ezra delivered Santa's package from Monkey Ward. I don't remember what we actually got on Christmas day. Usually our stockings were a wondrous treat since Christmas was one of the few days of the year in which we received a bright big orange, bulging out in the toe of our Christmas stockings. Of course, my short boy's stockings were so much shorter than my sister's much hated long brown stockings, which were valuable only on Christmas day. Then we always got a few peanuts and a few other nuts and some hard candies. We savored these priceless treats and stretched them out as far as we could
Then, day after day, I and one or two of my sisters perched eagerly on the roof of our tiny pine slab barn, more of a shed, where Mom milked old Spot, the black and white Holstein that gave us our milk, during the days when Dad was gone seeking work during the Great Depression. We waited and waited and waited until we could see Ezra coming down the frozen dirt road toward our mail box. Nothing today. Our spirits sank again. Nothing the next day. Would Santa ever get Monkey Ward to send his package with Ezra? Then one magic day we saw that Ezra had delivered a package by the mailbox. Hurrying down from the barn roof, we ran to the mailbox, filled with excitement and anticipation and wonder. Taking the package to the house, we opened it, just knowing of the treasures which it contained.
I remember only one gift I got from that magic package: An aviator's style cap with long ear flaps that buttoned under my chin. All other memories of that Christmas have vanished. But forever pressed indelibly on my mind and in my hopes are the eagerness, the wonder, and the joy that we children felt during our scanty Christmases. Times were hard. Mother was often by herself. We had no money, no car, no telephone, no inside plumbing. We navigated the dark with kerosene lamps until I was nearly eight years old. But today's extravagant piles of soon-to-be forgotten luxury toys and bounteous gifts can never be a match in wonder and excitement as we awaited and opened the brown covered package from Monkey Ward that Santa had forgotten to leave us on that cold Christmas eve so long ago.