Mrs. Martha Marie Pugh wrote to me in 2006, sharing her story
in elegant cursive. When I mentioned her exquisite handwriting
to Drucilla, Mrs. Pugh’s daughter-in-law, she said such grace was extraordinary, given the tremendous starkness of her mother-in-law’s young life in Pawnee, Oklahoma. Even more exceptional is that
from such a hardscrabble world, Martha Marie Barnes would later travel the world, visit England and be presented to the Queen.
I was born in 1931, during the Great Depression. Santa did not show up at our house with a big bag of gifts. My parents, however, did see that my brother and I got at least one gift.
The Christmas when I was 4 years old, my gift was a little pink apron trimmed in white rickrack. I loved it and showed it to everyone. It meant so much to me, I wore it until it was falling apart.
Martha Maria and her mother, 1934-35
That little apron was such a sacrifice for my parents. I can’t imagine what they did without so I might not be disappointed on Christmas morning.
It was my best Christmas present ever.