By Marie Stroyan as told to Carol McAdoo Rehme
There are no seven wonders of the world in the eyes of a child.
There are seven million.
Life in the 1950s was gentle and innocent. There was a simplicity and freshness in adults and children alike that carried over into the holiday celebration, as well. I was a young mother, excited about decorating a real tree the year after our first child, Diana, turned two. After all, what could be more thrilling than seeing Christmas through the eyes of my toddler? No stone would be left unturned, I decided. My daughter would have the best holiday I could create.
Diana greeted the seasonal activities with wide-eyed interest and cheery enthusiasm. She sampled my homemade sugar cookies — but seemed to prefer the raw dough. She admired the tree and left all the shiny ornaments alone — mostly. She helped me tape Christmas cards to the hall mirror — then artfully rearranged them, again and again, proud of each new display that she created. And she endured our lengthy shopping excursions — perhaps in part because we ended each one with a stop at Murphy's, the local five-and-dime in our small hometown of Medina, New York.
"Should we go get our treat now?" I grabbed her dimpled hand and led her to the deep chest cooler against the far wall of the store.
There, squeezed tight against me, Diana stood on tippy-toes, stretching to see while I searched for her favorite: a cardboard Dixie cup of vanilla ice cream. My little daughter's coffee-bean eyes sparkled under the strand of plump red and green bulbs strung overhead while she watched the busy shoppers and waited to savor her icy treat, one bite at a time.
I reached into a box for a small wooden spoon, closed the lid to the freezer, and gave the clerk fifteen cents.
"Wait until we get to the car to open it," I reminded my little one.
As December 25th drew ever nearer, I tucked her into bed one night. Priming her for the excitement of the holiday ahead, I asked, "Diana, what would you like for Christmas?"
She cocked her silky blond head and sing-songed sweetly, "A Dixie ice cream."
I tried to hide my grin as I snuggled the blanket under her chin. "Well, yes," I agreed. But, thinking about the baby doll I'd already wrapped — along with a host of carefully hand-selected items — I pressed her for more. "But isn't there something else you want, too?"
Diana considered the question at length. "Hmmm," she said and then brightened in sudden decision. "Yes," she nodded, "a spoon."