Olga Waters: the gifts of Christmas

By Cara L. Dempski

GLENWOOD CITY — Olga Waters was interviewed for a Christmas article before Thanksgiving, which made her laugh.

“I’m really not thinking about it yet,” she chuckled as she talked about Christmas as a child and young adult.

She speculated during the interview that many parents and grandparents would soon start buying gifts to give the youngest members of the family on the big day, and said she was glad she does not need to spend so much any longer.

Waters remembers both the days of spending money to get gifts for her own children and grandchildren, and the days of her own childhood where there was not much money to purchase things for her and her siblings.

“We didn’t have Christmas, really. Mom couldn’t really afford to get us gifts then,” she explained. “But they (her parents) always had some little thing for us to play with. Even now I don’t like to go out and spend that money for the grandchildren.”

While the family was not wealthy, Waters remembers her mother working hard to make special food for the day, and complete gifts like mittens and hats for the family.

She said she loved participating in the school and church Christmas programs, especially singing the songs.

The Glenwood City resident grew up near the community, but spent part of her young adult years living in Chicago. It is where she met her husband, Wally. When things started getting serious between the two of them, Waters decided her family needed to meet Wally, so she brought him home to Glenwood City.

The couple lived in Chicago for several years, and she admitted the first few Christmases there were hard. Like so many at the time, Wally was a veteran of World War II, and was working to help the country get back to normal after the war.

She tried to make sure each of her children had something

As times got better, Wally and Olga moved to Glenwood City to be closer to her family, and Wally found a good job building silos. The better job meant a better income, and more opportunity to buy gifts and hold Christmas celebrations.

The move home made the holidays a larger affair with her three sons, Ed, Wally and Larry, and cousins, aunts and uncles.

Visiting with family is still her favorite part of Christmas.

“I look forward to seeing my children and grandchildren,” Waters said. “Especially the little ones, because they get so excited.”

When Olga and Wally’s family was younger, everyone would get together on Christmas day to celebrate as a group. Now, there are so many relatives, it is hard to get everyone in the same place on the big day, so she said the family usually chooses a day during the holiday season to get together and exchange gifts and just spend time with one another.

Waters is happy she no longer has to buy gifts for such a crowd, though, and seems content to have them give her gifts. She said it is hard to afford gifts for everyone, especially considering she does not have as much money as she once did.

“Those days are gone,” she said. “But they were fun all the same.”

She said she likes watching the eyes of the young children when they get a gift, enjoying the excitement of the day.

These days, she enjoys gifts like puzzle books, good things to eat, and time spent with the people she loves.

Waters seems to consider those the greatest gifts of Christmas.

“I may not give presents any more, but I am still glad to see my family when they come visit,” she finished. “Whether it is Christmas or not.”