When my Army father was posted to Germany in 1965, we were supposed to move in the summer with the rest of his Battalion. But my baby brother had eczema and couldn’t get his vaccination shots until he was cleared. So, we moved at Christmas instead. Lesson: It’s only with the passing of years we can finally appreciate how much our parents did for us kids. What an example this memory is.
Mom says not to worry – Santa knows where we are all the time. No matter that we’re moving to Germany three days before Christmas. He’ll find us, she promises. I’m not convinced. She already gave away our dog Max – she says he can’t fly on a plane.
I don’t like my Grade two teacher here at Sarcee Elementary anyway, so I don’t care that we’re moving. I just mind that we couldn’t put a tree up for Christmas. And that my Malibu Barbie with bendable legs is in the Eaton’s store here, in Calgary. How do I know if Santa can find the exact same one in Unna, Germany?
Well, Goodbye Canada, I say from the airplane. It’s so blue in the sky and so white down there on the ground as we take off.
Not that long later, Dad is calling. Look out the window, kids, there’s Germany – we’re landing! But it’s not white here. Dark green and grey sky and rain. Pouring rain on the bus ride to our new town. Not like Christmas at all – maybe it’s not Christmas in Germany? Mom still says not to worry, but I’m suspicious.
As big sister to three brothers, I get my own room as usual in our new German apartment. There’s a bed and desk already there, even blankets and pillows. I unpack my own suitcase. There. All moved in.
Mom is digging through boxes in the living room. I don’t know what she brought – what else do we need? The apartment has a couch and chairs and dishes and everything. No TV I notice. I sit and read comic books with my brothers. Mom unwraps the family platter that the Christmas, Easter, and Thanksgiving turkeys sit on. Is it Christmas tomorrow? I don’t have high hopes. We still don’t have a tree. My brothers fight over the comic books, oblivious.
We do wake up early the next morning and there is a little bush of a tree set up and I do recognize the old glass bulb ornaments and tinsel. It must be Christmas. Dad’s army socks are plump full on the unfamiliar couch, and tearing into them my brothers and I each find an orange and candy which we’re allowed to eat before breakfast. Then I look; there are things under the tree. Not wrapped but…I see bright plastic toy cars, a hockey stick, a wagon, and then there it is : the big square box with the plastic front. It’s my Malibu Barbie, all tanned and bendable and just exactly the right one! Mom was right – Santa did find us.