Niagara Gazette — The puzzle-table became a sort of quiet sanctuary, a corner where one person or the whole family might sit in complete contemplative silence broken only by the joyful shriek of the find and placement of some elusive piece that served as a key link to an entire section of the puzzle, which when finally complete, was routinely scrambled again and again without a single piece ever being permanently lost; the whole puzzle would be carefully, painstakingly put back together every single year.
We all had Christmas stockings, nothing fancy; they were real socks, American-made of cotton or wool, each completely decorated with our own name hand sewn by Mom, each one completely filled with tangerines, apples, walnuts, Brazil nuts, and real Christmas candy ribbons, and my favorite, chocolate-filled hard candies, the kind my parents warned us not to bite down so hard on for fear we’d break our teeth which could result in a trip to the most evil doctor in the world, the dentist.
Like Thanksgiving, dinner was equally exciting though we were permitted to skip the usual formal breakfast, everyone was just too excited to sit still at the dining room table and eat like we usually did on most other occasions.
A slice of Mom’s delicious homemade sweet potato, apple or lemon meringue pie, or a slice of her pineapple upside-down or butter-rich pound cake and a tall glass of ice cold milk sufficed as breakfast once a year, and we loved it; dessert for breakfast, oh yeah!
I had things to invent with my new chemistry-set, my sisters had dolls’ hair to comb until their dolls heads were completely bald, usually by day’s-end, my brother and I had new tracks to lay, and more cars to add to the train set every year.