Looking back over the years, I still hold one Christmas in particular as my most favorite. I was six and our family was stationed at Goose Bay, in Labrador. I was hoping that I would get a new front tooth to grow in faster for Christmas, but as the day grew closer, I realized that these things can take more time than I would have thought. Life in Goose Bay was very different to the winters I had seen in New York, Maine and New Jersey. We had lived there for nine months when December came around. When we came to live there, daylight ruled and we kept blinds and heavy curtains over our windows to sleep at night. Now the days held very little light and we had to call for the wind-chill every morning before going out.
Everything we needed had to be flown in. There were very little selections besides basic needs. Care packages from family or friends back in the States were treasures. There were no cows and so our milk was mixed from powdered form in huge vats. Cardboard cartons were dipped in wax so there was a nearby and constant supply. We learned to keep a small strainer close at hand and pour our milk through, avoiding clumps of unmixed milk or chunks of wax.
I was intrigued with the Eskimos that lived near by in a town called Happy Valley. I had a Parka and Mukluks made by a dear Eskimo woman, named Voisy. Her son had fashioned her sewing machine on the arm of an old cushioned chair. Her home was tiny and the floors were dirt, but the oil lamps made it very cozy. I remember her answering the door, chewing on a piece of seal leather to make it soft for Mukluks. She didn't talk very much, but her eyes were happy as she went about her business measuring everyone and making sure that our Parka's would be special to each of us.
One evening, right before Christmas eve, my parents made sure we were all dressed in our Sunday best, Down the road we went to one of the big plane hangers for a party. There were two big tables mounded with presents, one for boys, and the other for girls. Beyond that was a table heaped with the biggest and most beautiful apples and oranges I had ever seen. Santa was there also. After picking a wrapped gift, we were able to pick out an apple or an orange each. It had been so long since I had fruit like this! Especially the orange! (The apple was beautiful, but with a tooth missing, I knew more difficult to chomp into!).
It took me several days to eat my precious orange. I treasured it and spent a few days just smelling it. Those days in Labrador are still wrapped close in my memory. We had few things, but mostly we had each other. Military families are one big, close knit family The simple gift of an orange, may be taken for granted by some, but very appreciated by others.