When I was eight years old, I got a very pleasant Christmas present. This present came a little early, on the 5th. We got a new baby sister. She was cute, required much attention, food and diapers.

My biggest worry was that my mother would not have enough love to go around. After all, we had just lost our father six months earlier. But Mother assured me that this was no problem. To quote her: “God gives a mother extra love to give to each child.” I have used this quote many times. over the years, to my benefit and the benefit of those I have loved.

We had moved into my grandparents’ house after losing my father. My mother was not in a shape to go to work and support us until after the birth of the new baby. So, we all crowded in to the three bedroom house, which wasn’t so bad, since my aunt had gotten married and had moved out that summer and my uncle was living in another part of the state.

That first Christmas with the new baby was great. For children, any time you get new toys, it is great. I remember getting a new baby doll but I don’t remember the doll’s name. I remember all the others, Sally, Beth, Wee One (named after one of Santa’s Elf on TV). Funny how your memory is checkered!

That Christmas, my grandmother told us  some strange things that took many years for me to understand. We were talking about Santa, of course. She assured us that he was real.  Then there was the discussion of the Easter bunny. He was real, too. Then she told us about the ragman, who was also real. The ragman? I did not understand. She used the term several times later, but in the context of a man who was coming to pick up old clothes. My curiosity was not piqued and I forgot about it for years. It wasn’t until my little sister grew up and said something to pique my interest that I thought about the term.

One time, my grandmother said to my little sister, “One time I saw the ragman, and it was the scariest thing I ever saw.” What a very odd thing to say to a little child. I had to investigate.