DixieCarterPicIc.jpgBy Dixie Carter
All my childhood Christmases are memorable and dearer than can be expressed, and after childhood my young adult memories of Christmas are playing in the snow outside the house with my brother Hal and his bride Margo, and Billy Moss, my fella, using cardboard boxes broken down flat for sleds to slide down the long hill in front of our house, and laughing, laughing.

Coming into our house on Christmas break from college was every time a new retreat into the land of safety, comfort, and love. I remember how every apple in the big wooden bowl would have been polished to a ruby sparkle, how crisp and clean our sheets and pillowcases were, how loaded with cooking fragrances the whole house would be, how the mantles would be all trimmed with holly and pine boughs, and somewhere a wisp of mistletoe to surprise us, and with the memories, the knowledge of what effort and love, yes love, my mother put into our welcome back sets me weeping.
During the time my father was in Europe serving in the WWII, our little family was, like all others, in dire straits. Rationing was very strict, and bountiful dinners were out of the question.
It took a great deal of managing for my mother to save enough sugar coupons to whip up a cake for our three birthdays during the course of a year, and Christmas? How she put together a fruit cake, a coconut cake, and an orange cake I will never know. I don’t remember whether there was turkey or not. The cakes were the main thing on my mind.
I was four years old on the Christmas when she made the treasure chests. Having no way to give her three children anything from our family store without going against her idea of what was right, she somehow found the time after we had all gone to bed, for I don’t know how many weeks, to construct very nicely, three good sized boxes with hinged tops. They were painted brown, and our names were painted in gold on the side. They had a flip down metal closure over a loop, so that a little pad lock would fit should we want to lock up our treasures, and of course we did.
There was absolute magic in those little chests. I knew it the minute we came down the stairs on Christmas morning. I still have mine.
Christmas is wonderful for those of us who have been loved, who are loved. I think that’s the reason it’s a sad time for persons who haven’t known that feeling. Christmas is for me a deeply sacred time, as a cornerstone of my religion; it’s also a time of profound gratitude for having been set on earth in this particular little town and into this particular family.
Emmy-nominated actress Dixie Carter has a long resume, that includes the memorable character Julia Sugarbake on “Designing Women.” She’s currently starring in the Hallmark Channel original movie “Our First Christmas.
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