Thursday, December 17, 2015

A Priceless Little Gift Under Twenty-five Cents

For whatever reason, certain Christmas gifts stand out from others received over the years. Sometimes those remembered the most aren’t necessarily the most expensive. Cars, jewelry, trips. They all cost a pretty penny. But the one gift I remember in particular cost less than a quarter. That’s because it didn’t matter what was wrapped inside. What mattered was it came from my older brother.

We grew up in a house sitting alongside a lane surrounded by other houses mostly occupied by young families like ours. Because the street was on a bit of a hill, whenever a blizzard closed the schools, we’d all be sliding down the street on toboggans and sleds. Even though there was no fireplace, our home was the perfect location for Santa to visit once our father went to the attic and carried down a cardboard imitation. We’d get so excited as pretend flames started back up again when batteries were in place. On Christmas Eve we’d tape our stockings to the cardboard mantle after leaving milk and cookies for Santa who’d fill the stockings to the point of overflowing.
My brother had the bedroom at the top of the stairs. Mine was in the back. It was all about location on Christmas morning. He’d beat me down stairs every year. Then wait impatiently for me to follow. A few times he’d get under the register leading up into my room and make loud noises. It always worked.
One Christmas he didn’t wait. He came right up and got me. After our parents had their coffee in hand we were allowed to dig into our stockings. Our mother wrapped every little gift stuffed inside so it took a while to get down to the toe. Once we did, we were allowed to open one present from Santa. Then we’d have to wait while breakfast was served before diving into the pile of gifts awaiting us.

This one particular Christmas was no exception. Wrapping paper went flying as surprises were discovered in that house by the lane. It was after the gifts had been opened that my brother came over to me with a smile. I remember as if it was yesterday. I was sitting on the floor trying to get a doll with two braids out of its package when he handed me a very small gift wrapped in red tissue paper with my name on it printed in pencil. I could tell he was excited. He told me he’d wrapped it after I went to bed and hid it under his pillow. I became excited too. Not because it was another gift. Rather, because it was from my big brother.

Seconds later I was holding a 5-stick pack of Juicy Fruit chewing gum. He’d bought it at the little grocery at the end of the lane. He knew it was my favorite kind.Gifts remembered and treasured forever come straight from the heart. My brother’s heart was full that Christmas-as was mine.

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