Tea Set for Two

We have been privileged to have many of the articles Phyllis Badgley has written on our website, Gary asked her permission to use the latest article, one that was also published in Reminisce Extra, with their permission we offer this Christmas Remembrance to readers.

Gift was a Delightful Extravagance for Depression-era Sisters

AS A Child, during the Depression, I didn't expect expensive presents, but one kind gift caused my eyes to sparkle on Christmas Day in 1930.

We grade schoolers had memorized our lines for the annual Christmas program in the old, beloved Methodist church in our town of Baker, Oregon.

The age-old Christmas story unfolded anew with a manger scene, bathrobed shepherds, a king with a shiny, tinfoil crown and a dear angel unaware that one artificial wing was drooping.

After the program, we were told that a special visitor would be appearing. A jingle of sleigh bells behind closed doors sharpened our already keen anticipation. With a bag over his shoulder and a slightly tousled artificial beard, a rotund Santa did appear. Even though we secretly wanted to believe this man was from the North Pole, his voice and thick, sandy eyebrows were suspiciously like those of Mr. Noregaard, a member of our congregation.


We children each received a small, brown paper sack with hardtack candy nestled in the bottom and topped with a miniature orange. I ran my tongue along the surface of the orange, making plans to savor it one section at a time when I got home.

Putting up the somewhat sparsely limbed Christmas tree, which we had gratefully accepted from someone, was an event in itself.


Decoration and Celebration

After anchoring the tree in his homemade wooden stand, Dad was laboring to get all eight lights on one string to burn simultaneously. Eventually, we had 16 lights to place among the branches.

We camouflaged vacant spaces by draping red and green paper chains on the limbs; it made us feel appreciated to see the glue-caked creations dangling. Strands of twice-used, twisted tinsel were applied among the surviving ornaments. An ornament that sported an indented hole was hung so the wound wouldn't show.

With my 10-cent gift allotment, I chose a bigger-model ornament covered with crusted sparkles instead of two colored ornaments at 5 each. My parents hugged me warmly over their gift.

Our next-door neighbors, who had no small children, gave my sister, Alma, and me a set of doll dishes. Such extravagance, we thought! We were ecstatic.

We had daily tea parties using the orange-and-blue teapot and tiny cups and discovered that freshly baked cookies from Mother's oven made our parties complete.

Alma and I pretended high society, stylishly curling our little fingers as we each grasped a teacup handle. We carefully placed the dishes back in the box after use.

An occasional glance into my china closet still brings me a sweep of nostalgia. The few remaining pieces from the orange-and-blue dish set I find there evoke memories of an unexpected kindness at Christmastime 76 years ago.

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