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GUEST COLUMN: Cherished gift made post-war Christmas extra special

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Betty Miles

The year was 1946. The Second World War was over and stores were once again stocking shelves.

It would be Christmas in a few weeks and everyone was anticipating a better one than the year before.

I was 11, and every morning on my way to school I passed a jewelry store. Its display windows were full of gift ideas.

One item was a beautiful “Vanity Set,” for that’s what we called a combination mirror, brush and comb. It sat on a pedestal of white satin and was the most beautiful thing I had ever seen – pale pink in colour with a cameo on the back of the mirror. The box was lined with pink satin.

It was probably very expensive and I thought some lucky girl would find it under the Christmas tree.

Every day on my way to school I stopped and admired it. And then one morning, it was gone, along with my dream.

On Christmas morning we gathered by the tree, my parents, sister and myself, and proceeded to open our presents. My dad got his “Old Spice” aftershave wrapped in red tissue, along with and the usual pair of socks.

My mother opened her “Evening in Paris Eau De Cologne,” the dark blue bottle wrapped in white tissue, together with a box of laced trimmed hankies.

My sister received a little radio for her room. There was no TV at that time, and she was thrilled!

Then my mother stood up and announced there was one more present to hand out. She reached down into the bottom drawer of the china cabinet and brought out a large box wrapped in Christmas paper with a big red bow on it.

“This is for you,” she said, handing it to me.

I was so excited, wondering what was inside. Carefully I removed the tissue paper and there it was – the Vanity Set I had admired in the shop window.

That evening as I got ready for bed I sat in front of my dresser, made from two orange crates wrapped in a piece of white curtain material.

As I looked in the mirror and brushed my hair I felt like a princess.

What a Christmas!

Betty Miles is an 86-year-old resident of Corunna who formerly lived in Sydney, Nova Scotia

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