Lifelong Peabody resident remembers a special Christmas
To the editor:
Picture this if you will—someone who has lived all of her 64 years in Peabody, Kansas. I am very thankful for that!
I’ve had a lot of memorable Christmases in my lifetime. Memories of singing Christmas carols every morning, while I stood on a beautiful old wooden staircase in the ‘old’ Peabody Elementary School stand out for me. The Christmas tree at the bottom of the stairs was beautiful and, hey, we students always got to make the Christmas decorations for it!
We had great community Christmas-time celebrations. One in particular that comes to mind—does anyone else remember this? It was a Saturday and we had a ton of snow. Santa made his appearance downtown with bags of candy, each bag with an apple or an orange. But this year there was a special program—there was a bus, white, parked downtown about in the ‘Gamble Store’ area, I believe. There were ice skaters that performed on top of that bus. I don’t know how, but they did. I’m not making this up, honest!
Christmas was such an easy, wonderful time of the year in the 1950s, or so we thought. And yes, I’ve always believed in Santa and I always will. But my most memorable Christmas was in 1951. It was Christmas Eve at 505 N. Locust, Peabody, Kansas. This is where I grew up. We had a lot of snow for a day or so, seems as though that happened more frequently ‘back in the day.’
Mom had been busy for days cooking and baking. The house smelled great and holiday decorations were up all over the house. A real live Christmas tree decorated to mom’s satisfaction was in the front room. Some things never change (my own kids will get that comment!)
Several extended family members were due to arrive for Christmas Eve. You know—aunts, uncles, cousins, and our own Santa Claus. It was a perfect evening, except there was one person missing—my brother, Paul. He’d enlisted in the Navy after graduating from Peabody High School in 1950. We sent many care packages to him and he wrote many letters to us, always signed, “Your Bud, Paul.”
So what made this one such a memorable Christmas? Top secret, only a few knew about the Christmas surprise. Many of you out there reading this will remember the song, “I’ll Be Home for Christmas,” and so it was for our family. Snow was falling that evening, the family was gathered together and having a great time, but still someone was missing.
There was a knock at our front door and then the porch light was flipped on as my dad looked out and couldn’t believe his eyes! What I saw then I still see today. There stood the handsomest sailor ever—Navy uniform, pea coat, duffle bag flung over his shoulder.
He came home for Christmas! It was a ‘Hallmark’ moment—mom, dad, son together for the holidays and all the rest of us gathered around! What a memory! So for this time of any year, it is not only “I’ll Be Home for Christmas,” but so much more!
I haven’t seen Bud in a few years now, but he has always subscribed to the Peabody Gazette-Bulletin. So, to Bud in California, Merry Christmas! And one day we will all “Be Home for Christmas.” Promise.
Sharon K. (Gaede) Pickens