It was the Monday after the school Thanksgiving break in 1970 when our 7th grade homeroom teacher announced a Christmas contest called the Christmas Door Decorating Contest. Each homeroom was responsible for electing a team to decorate the classroom door with the theme of a Christmas song or carol. The prize was to be a large box of chocolates for the team whose door was judged the winner of the contest.
I had seen those beautiful boxes of chocolates in the stores, beautiful shiny embossed covers and bright decorative bows adorning them, but never before had one of those boxes of chocolates come into my hands. Ideas of Christmas songs started swirling in my mind and I raised my hand and asked the teacher how the team was going to be selected.
She asked for a show of hands of those who were interested in the task of choosing a song and the decorations for the door, and only three other hands went up besides mine. And there we were, the Christmas Door Decorating Contest team, and I was the leader.
I instantly knew which Christmas carol I wanted to use and the team members agreed. I chose Angels We Have Heard On High and quickly envisioned a choir of angels. We assembled a choir of three on the door with silver foil wings and gold tinsel halos upon clouds of white cottony fluff and little circled mouths caroling the song.
We spent the next few days of study hall time putting together our creation while the group decorating the door next to us was noisily adding more bells to their door for their song of choice, Jingle Bells, and that door did merrily jingle all through the days and weeks until Christmas break.
At the end of the last week before Christmas break, the judging began and on a Friday afternoon it was announced over the intercom that a winner had been chosen. It was the door with Angels We Have Heard on High and the prize would be delivered to the winning team in their homeroom just before classes were dismissed for the day.
There was a knock on our homeroom door and the school principal walked in holding a beautiful box of Christmas chocolates. My eyes were drawn to the gold embossed box with a beautiful fancy red bow wrapped around it and my name was called to receive the box of candy. I pulled the ribbon and as the lid was lifted my three team members were quickly grabbing pieces of the chocolates. Several others in the class shoved their way closer to me and helped themselves to some candy, passed it around and soon, all the chocolates in the box were gone!
The bell rang and everyone started running for the bus and I stood there holding an empty gold embossed box and red ribbon in my hands, smelling the wonderful scent of chocolate and had not eaten one piece. I checked through all the wrappers in case a piece was left behind. All I found was a box full of empty wrappers. Oh, I was glad to have won the prize but extremely disappointed to not have eaten any of the prize chocolates.
A few days later, when I stepped off the school bus and walked up our long driveway, my mom poked her head out the door and shouted, “Hurry up, Kathy, your piano teacher is here to see you and he has something for you! Come on!”
I stepped inside the door and Mr. Russell stood there holding a beautiful red box with a plaid green and red bow and handed it to me, and smiled as he said, “You have been an excellent piano student this year, I want you to have this as a token of my appreciation of the hard work you put into your lessons.”
A box of Christmas chocolates was now in my hands! It was smaller than the prize box for the door decorating contest, but I eagerly pulled the bow and lifted the lid and gazed longingly at every piece of candy, grabbed a piece and quickly popped it into my mouth. It was delicious!
I thanked Mr. Russell and as he left I turned to my mom and offered her a piece. She declined saying there had been a lot of Christmas candy at work and that this gift was mine to enjoy because I had worked hard on my piano lessons.
A box of chocolates just for me! I popped another piece in my mouth and skipped down the hall to my bedroom carrying my beautiful box of Christmas chocolates.
CHRISTMAS on MEMORY LANE
A Christmas series where yesterday's stories warm your heart today.