A great deal of my childhood happened during the 2nd World War. There were shortages on many things, not just food items.
Our church always had a wonderful Christmas program with beautiful music, carol singing, and the first Christmas acted out. The finale was always Santa coming to hand out candy to all of us kids.
My father was the head plumber at Paramount Studio and the studio put on a Christmas program for all the kids of the employees. I don't remember everything about the, what I do remember was that several were at Ebell Theater in Hollywood, and one was held way out in the country on a wonderful ranch--which is now in the heart of Studio City. Every child received a wonderful age-appropriate gift from Santa.
Our Christmases at home were wonderful--filled with anticipation the night before. Of course we hung our stocking on the mantel. And it was extremely hard to sleep and we often woke up around 4 a.m. We were not allowed to go into the living room until our parents were up because they always too movie of us opening our presents.
The presents I remember best were these. A beautiful doll with a China head and hands and a baby carriage to push her in. (I was not to take her outside and of course I did one day and I hit bump while pusher her and broke her beautiful head to pieces.)
My dad built me a two-story doll house and my aunt who was an artist made all the furniture to go in it. It was absolutely wonderful. I have no idea where it ended up.
Usually I received one Story Book doll at Christmas and one on my birthday. After I was married and had kids, I let my girls play with them and they are long gone. My sister hung on to hers and still has them.
During the war no one could buy a bicycle. My father made my cousin (who is only 11 months younger than me) two-wheel bicycles for both of us. They were wonderful bikes.
When I got older of course I received a lot of clothes, but I don't remember what any of them looked like, what I do remember the the Nancy Drew books I received. And of course that's where my love of mysteries began.
Our family really didn't have much money. Mom didn't work and my dad's job as a plumber paid the bills, but my mother was a genius at stretching a dollar. Though I had friends who received more expensive gifts and more of them, my Christmases were magical.