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Christmas "Olden Days"

Charmaine Shawana - December 29, 2014

In an effort to provide bonus coverage, Team Observer support local authors and Native storytellers in our community.  Frequent Tribal Observer Contributing Writer Charmaine Shawana offers her holiday reflections “back in the day” … enjoyJ!




When I think of Christmas, I have many a story from the “Olden Days”….

By Charmaine Shawana, Contributing Writer


When I was a kid we lived off and on at my Grandma’s house at “The Back 40” on Crawford Road. There was a tarpaper house with two bedrooms about 10 beds, a dining room, kitchen and small front room.  The wood stove was the center of the house, and kept that whole house nice and toasty warm. We had lots of blankets on the beds. Maybe about 20 blankets, well maybe not that many but a lot……about five or six inches of blankets.  We could hardly move after getting into bed. One winter morning I woke up and saw a lot of frost on the window. I asked my Mom what it was and she said that “Jack Frost came for a visit.” I said “oh”, quite puzzled.


Every year when we got our Christmas Tree, we would get the big box of ornaments and Christmas stuff out. Since we moved quite frequently we always had the packers and movers come and pack us up and move us out. Some big moving van company (that the Army paid for)…….it was always a treat to decorate the tree. On the box I read “we don’t know where we will be next year, hope this box makes it to wherever we are”.  Once I counted all the places we lived from kindergarten to 12th Grade. We had moved 15 times. With my father being in the military we lived a very worldly life of traveling, but I never regretted a day of it.


One time when my Dad went to Alaska for 6 months, we lived in a duplex over on Bradley Street. I believe that house is still there. My Dad was a ski instructor in Alaska for a while. He made us a chart and every day we would get a star according to our behavior for that day. Of course us older kids would get all stars because we were good and had to help with the younger kids. When I remembered looking at that chart, my sister Marcella was the baby. She must of been a toddler a terrible toddler.  The best star was the blue star and gold stars, with green and yellow in the middle with red being the worst star for the worst behavior. Well Marcella had a line of all red stars. I think it‘s funny now though.


Also I remember my Mom hiding the Christmas toys in the closet. Somehow or another Marcella got into that closet and found the Christmas toys. She brought out a little toy yellow bumble bee that you pull on a string with the wings going round and round. We tried to take it from her because we knew it was for Christmas, but she screamed and cried and finally my Mom said we had to give it to her. She pulled that toy around the house for hours as if she was saying ha ha….. We were so poor in those days we didn’t even have a refrigerator. We put everything between the door and the screen door to keep it cold.


My Mom took us four kids in tow and we moved to Germany after that. My sister, a toddler, on a plane all alone all the way to Germany. I have to give it to her, she musta been some woman to be taking all us four kids to Germany without my Dad. He was already there and found us a home. I must have been 6 years old.


Looking back on those happy days, I can honestly say there is nothing I regret growing up. We had a good life, with many a Merry Christmas.




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