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A Christmas Memory

December 24, 2021

While driving homeward last night, listening to the faintly traditional music cued to the more reflective moments of the holiday season, my thoughts went back. as they are wont to do, to Christmases past.  As my years seem to mount up, the memories of most of them have become blurred or irretrievable.  I have little clear recollection of any of the gifts I may have received, or given—other than some of those from childhood.  A sled, for one, arrived on a fortuitously white Christmas morning in 1960.

Another stands out.  In the first year of my first marriage, my bride and I—college students then, not quite penniless but not far from it.  She was much more attuned to things than I was in general, more generous of spirit.  She suggested we contact the welfare department (words we no longer use) in the city where we made our home, and see if there was a needy family that could use a little help in salvaging their own Christmas.  With our own collected pennies, we could buy for them what they could not buy for themselves.

Of course, given our own modest circumstances, we could not afford much.  We were given the name of a family and the first names of the children, and a short list of what they really needed.  Not toys.  This was not about piling toys under a tree, but about filling some basic needs.

The only thing I recall after all these years, is a new cloth jacket for a five-year-old—lined, maybe even quilted.  The winters can get cold in West Virginia.  The fabric was white with tiny blue (or was it green) flowers all over it—sort of alyssum in reverse.  There were a few other items as well—probably of the socks and underwear variety, possibly an inexpensive toy or two.  We must have gotten a thank you note afterward, I don’t recall.

The mental image of that jacket, and walls of the apartment we lived in at the time, has remained with me all these years.  So it is not so much the gifts we get that we recall, as—at least sometimes—the gifts we give.  And why we chose them.

We had other items under our tree, for our newlywed selves.  The guitar I still have.  And this—the recollection of that jacket, and the lesson I learned that year, that has remained with me ever since.  “It is better to give than to receive.” 

One Comment leave one →
  1. Rea Jo Waldo permalink
    December 24, 2021 7:43 pm

    Lovely 😊

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