Christmas Eve finally arrived and my cousins and my aunt and uncle arrived to celebrate our Swedish style Christmas. (Have you ever noticed how much slower time moved when you were a kid?!) Our Christmas, or at least the prelude to presents, was torture for us kids. We would have a Swedish Smorgasbord with all kinds of courses. First there was a selection of cheeses and herring while the grown-ups had cocktails. Then the Swedish meatballs, cold cuts, potato salad... and those grown-ups would talk and laugh and we kids would fidget. Finally the sweets were brought out and the adults would show signs of getting up from their seats. At last!
Presents weren't a huge part of our Christmas. We all received family gifts on Christmas Eve: items of clothing and a toy or some sort of sports equipment. Santa would fill a stocking the next morning with crayons, a pair of scissors perhaps, and maybe a small toy or two. My mother was very crafty and would often add homemade items to the pile of family gifts. Since there weren't that many presents under the tree, a designated 'Santa' would deliver one gift to one person and we would all watch as the gift was opened before the next present was proffered. My mother would direct 'Santa' as she never put tags on the gifts in an effort to keep
Meanwhile, one of my cousins seemed to have short circuited! I guess the night was long and she was tired, but Maria began to wail and whine because she hadn't gotten what she wanted (her name has been changed to protect the child - although I'm not certain we could call her innocent!). It was my turn to open a present. As everyone watched, I opened a small box containing a home made dress that would fit a walking doll. My eyes were glowing in anticipation. But then, my mother commented, "Oh no, that's not right."
"What?!!" thought I! My mother instructed me to go to the attic to get 'the present'. Oh.... so you mean.... you knew that I had been visiting the mother lode and admiring THE present?!! I skipped up the stairs. The time had finally come. I was about to meet 'my doll'! I came trotting downstairs with the tissue-wrapped package, that was only slightly smaller than me. I was about to tear into it when my mother, the Directress of Package Deployment, instructed me to give the present to my cousin, Carla. "What?!!! That's my doll," I thought as I watched, in utter devastation as Carla opened up the gift. I tried not to cry. I tried not to join Maria in a chorus of wailing and whining. I tried to find some enjoyment in seeing Carla's excitement about her gift. But... that was my doll....I thought. I was very sad.
A few more gifts were handed out and admired. I was a bit glum. My aunt left the room and came back with a large box that she handed to me. It was a walking doll. It was MY walking doll! It turns out that both my cousin and I had wanted walking dolls. The sisters, my mom and my aunt, went shopping together and schemed to fool their inquisitive girls by swapping dolls.
So, all was well. Carla had her doll. I had my doll... and cousin Maria finally fell asleep and peace reigned!