Three Christmases I Remember

Donna Benson

There were three Christmases that I remember when I was growing up in Iowa.

My family, Chris and Edna Meierotto, lived on a small farm about five miles North of Keokuk, Iowa. Christmas, 1942, there was no money for presents. At that time my mother had four children, all born one year apart. At eight years old I was the eldest. I went out to get the mail, the mailman handed me a box.  It was from my uncle Anthony (son of Henry & Mary Flanders of Wellman, Iowa). He was in the U. S. Air Force. He wrote that he did his shopping at the PX. There was a big doll for me, wearing a pink dress. I named her Polly. There was a medium sized doll for my sister Patty, a little brown doll for my sister Rosemary, and a football for my brother Dennis.

We attended St. Mary’s Catholic School in Keokuk. The nun who taught me said we could bring our favorite toy to school to show our classmates.We put all our toys on a shelf in back of the room during class. I remember turning around and looking at my doll several times during the school day. She was so beautiful!

When my parents had six children, Santa brought one sled for all of us. Christmas morning the sled was on the dining room table. Oranges, bananas and Christmas nuts in the shell were on top of the sled.

It didn’t snow one time that year!

When I was l6 years old my mother was pregnant at Christmas time and very uncomfortable. She sent our dad to shop for Christmas presents. Dad went to Platte’s Service Station about a quarter of a mile down the road. He bought each of us a tablet with lines, two yellow wooden pencils and a box of crayons. We were sitting on the stairs when we received our presents. There was wordless communication between mom and me. I gave her an understanding look when our eyes met. We colored the lines in our tablets and we were happy. Pegi was born on December 29, 1951.

Our Christmas trees were harvested from the fence row along the highway. Pegi is pictured many years later standing beside one of our family’s Christmas trees.

In 1954.  From left: Casper Meierotto, Pegi, Rosemary, Charles, Ann, Pat, Dennis, Jim, Karen, Judi, and Donna.  We must not have been that poor because it appears we all had shoes.


Our most recent family picture was taken at a wedding in Kansas City, Mo. It is the first time our family was together since mom died in 1989.  From left: Peg, Karen, Rose, Dennis, Judi, Donna, and Pat.

2 thoughts on “Three Christmases I Remember

  1. Dear Donna, You were lucky because I begged for a doll and Mom kept saying we couldn’t afford one. If I remember correctly there were two black families in Keokuk, a police officer and a medical doctor. One of the stores bought a black doll assuming one of those two families would buy it. They didn’t. After Christmas it went on sale for half price. Mom came home with that black doll and I was absolutely thrilled. For Mom it was an economic process but for me something totally different. It was one of those dolls that you put a bottle in its mouth with water, then it would wet its pants. I bathed it, clothed it, fed it, and becaue it was black I found myself in later years never feeling one bit racist. She didn’t realize the affect it would have on me but I think she did a wonderful thing like many of the other wonderful things our mother did. Judi

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