A special Christmas feast

Wanita L. Gray
Smith Tower
I didn’t know we were poor when I was little because Mama never told me we were. We lived on welfare and Mama’s dressmaking.
I always had 10 cents for a Saturday movie on Clark Street in Chicago, where I grew up with Lincoln Park for my playground.
I didn’t think about not having a tree because we waited until Christmas Eve to get one cheap, but I wondered why our three-room flat wasn’t decorated yet. Mama said with a twinkle in her eye, “This year is special.”
I found out how special when I went into the front room and found a quilt spread on the floor, candles in the middle, and a can of cold pork and beans.
“This year we are cowboys around a campfire telling stories,” she said.
She didn’t mention that our electricity and gas was shut off. I actually felt sorry for all the other kids.
(Note: Dedicated to my strong, unique, joyful mother: Lydia Bottenhagen.)

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