Native Writes: Message of the muff

After talking with a friend yesterday, there was temptation to stop on Main Street, roll down a car window and listen.

We remembered the different Yuletide tunes that filled the air.

Each store that had a window worked to outdo the others, with fantastic displays. Most were secular, the religious ones were at the churches. They, too, sent wonderful sounds into the air.

It was a sort of wondrous cacophony, there was no agreement on what would be played. I loved the organ music – I still do.

I can still remember walking with my aunt in downtown Alamosa, admiring the tinsel and glitter in the windows and listening to the music coming from each store.

“Silver bells, silver bells, it’s Christmas time in the city.”

Alamosa was the city. We went to Pueblo from time to time and almost never to Denver.

There was a nip in the air and my aunt purchased a muff in which I kept both my hands. It was white, with fake red berries and holly leaves. A strap held it around my neck.

I did not appreciate the muff, but my aunt had paid five dollars for it and said it would last many winters. “Your daughter will love it.” It was 1950 and $5 was a tidy sum.

I had sons. It was one way to exact revenge. Somehow, the word, “muff” took on another meaning.
They wore gloves and didn’t spend much time downtown.

I haven’t seen a muff for many years. I’m sure they are still available and high fashion folks use them, but I’m just fine with gloves from Dollar Tree.

My aunt and I walked to the back of the L-shaped Montgomery Ward store, past underwear and socks, to a magical place called “Toyland.”

It was then I realized the muff was designed to be sure the youngster wearing it would “look, don’t touch.”
My aunt said it was best to keep my hands to myself. “You don’t want a shopworn present.”

I don’t think the big box worries about things like that. Its very existence has changed downtown. The joy of Toyland has disappeared. Still, there’s magic in the air.

Children display their very best talents in school and church programs, Santa and his spouse or a bevy of volunteers dispense bags of nuts, candy and fruit as excited little ones tell the Jolly Old Elf what they want.
When I was small, Santa held forth at the American Legion, also the Rialto Theater. The churches offered bags of goodies delivered by “angels come from on high.”

We wished everyone “Merry Christmas” and there was no challenge to that. Each person believed as he or she felt.

Today’s changing society has brought to us people of other faiths and the wish, “Happy Holidays.”
In the 1950s, we sang. “Happy holidays, happy holidays. The merry bells are ringing…”

If I didn’t have a singing voice akin to a dying rat, I would sing.

Smile and people smile back. Laugh and people share the joy. The hometown sentiment is still in the air, but the stores have changed. Toyland was and is no more, but the small independent businesses have much to offer.

Laughing, I remember my aunt and the muff.

Share warmth and receive it in return.