It was Christmas Eve, December 24, 1950, and I was 10 years old. Like any young boy I was looking forward to Christmas. Mother had knelt beside our bed with my little brother and me and we had said our prayers. Then we were tucked into bed with good night kisses.

Outside the wind was howling and I could feel the cold air coming in around our window. Ronnie was sound asleep, but I could hear Mother working in the kitchen next to our bedroom. I knew she was baking and preparing our surprise Christmas dinner. I could always count on my favorite pecan and pumpkin pies, chicken and dressing, mashed potatoes with gravy, cranberry salad, green beans, hot biscuits and black berry jelly.

We lived in a very humble home in Ripley County, Missouri, which is part of the beautiful Ozarks. Dad had left us when I was seven years old, Ronnie was four years old and our baby sister Goldie Kay was seven days old. Times were hard and things were bad, but we did not know any difference. Many times all we had to eat was green beans Mother canned from our garden and oats we bought from Dave Crooks Country Store. Many times we ate green bean sandwiches in our school lunch and green beans for supper, but we were thankful to God for our food. We always had a big garden and Mom canned everything she could for the long cold winter. Since she had very little money, Mother made most of our clothes.

Every evening after I walked home from our rural country school I had chores to do. I milked the cow, shelled corn for the chickens, gathered the eggs, carried in the wood and stacked it on the front porch to burn in the big, round stove that heated our home. 

After supper and homework was my favorite  time. I pulled my chair close to the stove and looked at my favorite wish books—Sears & Roebuck and Montgomery Wards catalogs. I looked at bikes, shirts, coats and turtleneck sweaters. And I always ended by looking at ball gloves—how I wished and dreamed about all those beautiful ball gloves. If pictures could be worn off the page by looking at them, the pages would be blank. More than anything in the world I wanted a new ball glove. Wish, wish, wish! We did not have any money, so a glove was out of the question. Many times we spent our last penny to buy a loaf of bread which cost 11 or 12 cents.

So that Christmas Eve I lay in bed thinking about the next morning and the excitement of opening our Christmas gifts. During the summer we would pick out the tree we thought was the most beautiful. With chopping ax and hand saw, two little boys with hearts full of love for each other and excitement went out to cut our own tree. Our home would be filled with that fresh cedar smell. Christmas was coming. We were so happy.

Mother had placed several packages under the tree but we could not touch them. Only look and dream. Mother always had some beautiful shirts she made on her old Singer treadle sewing machine. We were so proud to wear them to school because Mom had made them. 

As I lay there in bed I began to think about the new ball glove I wanted so badly, and I began to cry softly. I didn’t want Mother to hear me crying, so I put the pillow over my head. At times I stopped and listened to make sure she was still busy in the kitchen and could not hear my sobs. I loved my mother and didn’t want to make her feel bad. I was the oldest and I had to be her little man. I wanted to be an encouragement to her and support for her. I had to be her man.

I don’t know how long I lay there sobbing but suddenly I heard something—a loud sound in the kitchen. The noise of bumping pots and slamming doors got louder than usual. When I couldn’t stand it any longer, I uncovered my head for just a little peek toward the kitchen to see what was going on. I could see Mother frantically working, baking and cooking our Christmas dinner. The light in the kitchen came through our slightly open bedroom door. Beside my bed was a nightstand and there, to my great surprise, lay a brand new Duke Snider ball glove. I reached out and grabbed that glove and pulled it to my chest. I kissed it. Oh, the new leather smelled so good. In a flash my unbearable sorrow had been turned into perfect joy. I had my very own brand new ball glove. Suddenly I was the most happy boy in the whole wide world.

Mother was watching me out of the corner of her eye all the time. She knew what was wrong with her little boy. She knew I was lying in there crying because I wanted a new ball glove more than anything with no possible way to get it. I jumped out of bed and started toward the kitchen at the same time Mother started toward the bedroom. I reached up and hugged her told her I loved her. I was so happy. She kissed me and told me she loved me. Then she said, “You need to get back in bed so your feet will not get cold.”

I slept with my new ball glove that night and many nights thereafter. I always laid it on the nightstand so it would be close to me. That ball glove was so very precious to me.

That was 66 years ago, but the memory is just as vivid in my mind as if it happened last night. I don’t know what Mother sacrificed to buy me that ball glove. I do know that the greatest love in the world next to God love was the love of my mother. Thanks God for mothers!

I still have that precious ball glove today. It is carefully placed in a cabinet in my office. Every time I look at it I see a constant reminder of the love of my mother. To this day I will hold it next to my heart and the beautiful memories of childhood flash across my mind. Tears fill my eyes. I can’t see the keyboard to type. I’m a little boy again. I want to hug my mother again. I want her to hug me and kiss me again. My mother was one in a million, and yours probably is too.

On Christmas Eve, December 24, 1999, my mother breathed her last breath. Now she is resting and waiting for the resurrection. Her lifelong dream will soon be fulfilled—to see Jesus face to face. 

For me Christmas Eve is filled with both happiness and sadness. I received the most precious gift of my childhood from my mother in that ball glove. And on Christmas Eve I lost the most precious gift of my childhood when my mother breathed her last breath.


Memories written by Bill Dawes on December 5, 2016.