A Winter Portrait of 1122 S. 2nd Ave.

Being in tropical Mexico this holiday season, I'm dreaming of all the white Christmases we had in my childhood home in the Midwest.

My parents bought the house at 1122 S. 2nd Ave. in Sioux Falls, South Dakota the year I was born. They bought it from my father's parents, who had lived there for 15 years. My parents had just had me, their second child, and they were ready to settle down. They raised their four kids here and sold it 20 years later. They put a clause in the sale that my older brother should have first dibs if and when the buyers should sell it. None of us live in Sioux Falls anymore, but I think we all dream of living in that house.


I loved growing up in that house. I loved our fort in the garage, the attic playroom, the white picket fence around the back yard, the tree swing, the alley where we played kick-the-can. My parents planted trees for all four of us kids in the yard. Best of all, I loved the two sun porches; we used to sleep in the upstairs one during the summer.

And oh how I loved celebrating Christmas in that house. Our stockings hung over the blazing fireplace, my sister and I would play dolls with the nativity scene, my mother made oyster stew on Christmas Eve and later that night, meat fondue. My dad read us O. Henry's "The Gift of the Magi." Candy cane cookies, clove-studded oranges, a felt candy cane advent calendar, the heavy red goblets filled with sparkling apple juice. We'd devour Grandma LaVerne's fudge and caramels, Grandma Dolores's Pecan Sandie cookies, my mother's Chex mix and cheese balls with Triscuit crackers. The tree crowned with the delicate heirloom angel and the memories associated with each tree ornament.

One year, Santa brought a kitten. One year, when there were just two of us, my brother and I unwrapped a bib and a rattle for gifts - we were to have a new baby. One year I was suspicious Santa wasn't really real, so I insisted on sleeping in front of the fireplace and when I woke up, the room was transformed and a big Victorian dollhouse was waiting for me; my faith in Santa fully restored.

The year after my parents sold this house, my father's law partner gave them this portrait in winter. I'm glad we have it in the family. I have so many happy memories in that home.

Sarah Burns