Walt Disney had many memorable Christmases—from the year he gave his wife, Lillian, a Springer Spaniel in a hatbox, to the year he surprised his daughters, Diane and Sharon, with a beautiful backyard playhouse. But when asked in 1957 of his most memorable Christmas, Walt thought back to his days as a paperboy, when he received a very memorable gift.
Here are five moments from that special Christmas morning in 1911—the first one 10-year-old Walter spent in Kansas City, Missouri.
- The Christmas tree was simple, but special.
The tree in the Disney family sitting room was modest, ornamented with strung popcorn and cranberries with glowing candles and a piney smell—the perfect setting for the family to gather.
- Walt’s brother Roy gave Walt a toy that mesmerized him.
It was a shiny gyroscopic top, and young Walter was intrigued by its spinning ability. Incidentally, Walt showed interest in the gyroscope later in life, as evidenced by one he requested from the Sperry Gyroscope Company in 1944 that he displayed in his Studio office.
- Walter received a gift he had wanted for a long time.
Walt’s parents, Elias and Flora, surprised Walt with a pair of stylish boots he thought he’d never receive. “All the other kids sported them, while I had been wearing an old pair in rain and winter slush, to school and while delivering newspapers in Kansas City,” Walt once wrote. “I hadn’t been able to talk my parents into such extravagance.” But there they were…“Those wonderful, frivolous boots!” with a metal toe cap and two decorated leather strips.
- Walter enjoyed the company of his family.
Of that special day, Walt remembered, “It just seemed the most wonderful Christmas any boy could possibly have, with the family affection very warm and heartfelt… Seeing the pleasure my parents had in my joy, I forgave them for having waited so long to fulfill my fondest wish.”
- Walt’s mother repurposed the Christmas decorations…
Ever frugal, Walt’s mother pulled the cranberries from the Christmas tree to make sauce.