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That Special Tuscarora
By: Loren (Lolly) Greene
1928 - 1999
(The Webmaster's Dad)
Growing up so close to nature on the Tuscarora Indian Reservation was a happy experience, in spite of its hardships. Christmas was the happiest time of year, as the family exchanged presents in the home on Christmas morning, with the sweet smells of freshly cut pine and the pleasant aroma of apple pie baking in the big old cast-iron wood stove.
On Christmas evening at 6 p.m., all the Indians on the Reservation would take presents for friends and distant relatives to the church for distribution after a longwinded speech and a Christmas program. The stage would be filled and piled to the ceiling with what seemed to me to be thousands of brightly wrapped presents.
That very special Christmas in 1937, my father and mother, my six-year-old brother and I arrived early to be sure of a seat. We gave our bags of decoratively wrapped gifts to the ushers for distribution after the program, then took our seats to watch as the other people arrived and the pile of presents grew higher and higher.
I caught sight of two ushers, one holding high overhead so he wouldn't hit anyone, a brightly shining six-foot-long toboggan and the other usher carrying a shiny red, white and blue sled as he fought his way through the crowd of people standing near the stage. The ushers finally made it to the stage and placed the two much desired items on the top of the pile. WOW, some lucky kids were going to get those. Who was I going to have to make friends with to get a ride on that beautiful new toboggan?
Finally, after what seemed like years with my eyes glued to the toboggan and thinking of my old beat-up sled, or that heavy piece of cardboard that was worn thin from many a trip down the sledding hill, the distribution of presents began. Following a very old tradition on our Reservation, the ushers would hold up a present, shout the name of the happy person and then proceed to find him or her while the next usher did the same. At long last came the toboggan. An usher picked it up, looked at the tag and held the toboggan high over his head. A hush fell over the audience...I was not the only one concerned about that beautiful toboggan.
What happened next was the one thing I never considered. He shouted my name! ME!, it was for me. WOW! IMPOSSIBLE! The clamor and noise resumed as the usher fought his way in my direction.
"Over here, over here," I shouted. He walked on by a few paces, then turned back, laughing as he handed me the shining tobbogan. The red, white and blue sled was for my brother Gene. My parents couldn't have planned it any better.
As I look back, I wonder how many hours mother hand-sewed beadwork in the dim light of the kerosene lamp, how many floors were scrubbed, how many things my parents had to deny themselves to save enough money to give me the happiest and most unforgettable Christmas of my life.
Reprint of an article in the Stauffer News, 1983.
Click on "Next" to read what happened with the shiny toboggan in the days following Christmas.