By January 6th, our tree was hanging on for dear life. We never put it in a bucket of water. It stood on its own wooden stand on top of the marble and cherry Victorian table. The silver tips were very brittle and drooping long before the Feast of the Epiphany arrived.
Time to put away the gifts that were still displayed under the table’s cabriole legs. Normally, anything red or pink was mine. I had the dark hair and brown eyes. Brat had blue eyes, so everything blue was hers. Apparently, this formula had been set into practice years before; I never believed there was any breaking it ever until the year our neighbor bought us matching yellow sweaters. WOW! What a treat not to open a package and see red. Imagine: Yellow! At Christmas time! Who’d have thought it?
I was absolutely delighted! Wearing the same sweater as Brat was bearable, as we had worn matching outfits before. In a past Christmas photo, we girls were dressed in a matching plaid and pleated skirt and blouse sets; we posed in front of the table legs with our two giant dolls from family friends who had decided to spoil us! The dolls were really big, almost as tall as we! Obviously, we were very impressed.
Unfortunately, we were not quite as enamored of the blackboards that Mommy and Daddy had given us. They sat untouched for the first few weeks; the only time we’d touched them was to move them with the rest of the new stuff into our bedroom. A couple of weeks after that, Mommy observed that we were not paying any attention to the boards at all. They leaned against the wall, their slates still perfectly clean.
Mommy announced in her very parental voice that if we were not going to play with them then she might as well give them away to little children who had nothing to play with and would appreciate having a new toy for Christmas.
The message comprehended, we immediately set about, drawing and writing and coloring in our designs on the two boards. We didn’t even have colored chalk, but we learned to shade and texture the farm animals, dinosaurs, and other things we drew. Over the year, we entertained ourselves quite a bit at the blackboards, slowly realizing that black boards weren’t too bad a plaything after all; they did indeed offer lots of fun!
Nothing like a good parental threat to encourage that creative urge…