• Betty Girardeau

Christmas Finery?

After yesterday's less cheerful post I thought it was time to share this image and its memories because it is time to get back to happy thoughts and memories again. A few weeks ago I had asked my sister, who is the keeper of the family photo album, to send me the picture that I remembered of me with my new doll Fuzz. She did, and included this image taken about the same time on Christmas Day, probably 1947. Mother was demonstrating how to use one of the gifts that I had received, which, as I recall required rubbing a pencil over a page to reveal a picture. As I have looked at this image again several thoughts crossed my mind. The first was that Mother was probably really unhappy that my Dad took it at all. Mother always wanted to present herself to the rest of the world as a lovely and well-groomed lady. And she wanted that for her children, too. But here we are. I have had my hair curled with rags (remember one of the more recent iterations on TV or film of Louisa May Alcott's "Little Women"? They used to curl their hair with rags, too.) But mother chose to curl her hair with pins (aka "pin curls"). She did this for years, only stopping after my sister and I were grown and she could afford to treat herself to a weekly "coif" at the beauty parlor. But before then I remember many evenings when she would wash her hair, bring the mirror that hung on the wall at the end of our kitchen, prop it up against the legs of a table in our den and , sitting on the floor, proceed to pin curl her hair while watching TV. Another thing about this particular image, though, is the fact that it was taken on Christmas morning. As I have shared earlier, Mother was a stickler for us being dressed and beds made before we could go down and enjoy the tree. But, obviously, that rule did not apply to having our hair done! Were we expecting guests for Christmas dinner? Another thing that stands out is that Mother did not have nail polish on her finger nails. This was even more of a surprise to me than seeing us still in our curlers because I really don't remember when my Mother did not have bright red polish on her finger nails. There were no nail salons in those days, and for years Mother did her own, usually "freshening" them up on almost a weekly schedule, which she must have had to do since she did all the house work. (That's another story to share another time.) I really love this picture because it is so "normal." It was obviously caught in the moment by Dad. Not only is it a picture from Christmas past, but it shows a bit about our daily life without pretense. Actually, knowing how my Mother liked to present herself to others, I am surprised that she kept this picture. But I am glad she did.

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