County residents recall memorable holidays
PRESQUE ISLE, Maine — Karen Morgan Harrington of Presque Isle recalls the Christmas 40 years ago that stands out as one of her “most memorable” due to the lessons that it taught her about giving.
Harrington was 13 years old that year and living in Limestone. Her father was stationed at Loring Air Force Base at the time and she and her four siblings had spent the fall picking potatoes to save money for school clothes.
“That year, of course, I was a bit more mature,” she said. “So I wanted some of the trendier, more expensive clothes. But my parents had a rule that we all had to save a bit of our harvest money to buy a present for one of our siblings. We all drew names, and I had chosen my 8-year-old brother Billy that year.”
Harrington recalled that when she sat down with her mother over the Sears catalogue after the harvest, her mother let her have more control over her purchases than she previously had.
“She made sure that I picked out the warm clothes that I needed for winter, but she did let me buy one of the dresses that I wanted,” Harrington said. “But when my money began dwindling and I was still eyeing another dress, she just cleared her throat and said, ‘What about your brother?’”
Harrington said that she turned to the toy section and began looking. She acknowledged that she silently wished to get her brother something cheap in the hopes that she could still get another dress, but her mother saw through the plan. Instead of getting angry at her for it, she simply reminded her that her older siblings gave her what she wanted when she was young, and that she should try to do the same for her brother.
“I immediately felt guilty,’ she said. “I not only bought my brother what he wanted, I dipped into my allowance and bought him something extra.”
Kristi McAtee of Houlton has fond memories of childhood Christmases spent with her family. She said she and her father, Paul, would stay at her grandparents on Christmas Eve, and she would wake up every Christmas morning to the sound of her father talking to her grandfather as they sat at the kitchen table.
“I wasn’t allowed to come downstairs until everyone was awake, though,” she said. “One year, Dad and Santa wrapped all of their presents in the same paper. I was told Dad ran into him at the JC Penney and Santa asked Dad to wrap my gifts because he was so busy at the North Pole. The last few years (before he died) weren’t about gifts. We’d just have a small get together with friends and family. I’d cook Christmas dinner and we’d watch movies all day. A whole day just to relax and catch up.”
Harrington agreed, saying that she now enjoys that kind of Christmas the most.
“Our family is much bigger now because my siblings and I are all in different parts of Maine and New England, and they all have children and grandchildren” she said. “But we still draw names for gifts, and we get as many of the siblings together as we can on Christmas. It is the best gift we can give each other.”