Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Just One Gift....

The years roll by. Sometimes it's all a blur and then there are memories etched in our mind.
Christmas is full of memories. To the young I say - treasure them - build them.
Once I asked Aunt Dorothy about her childhood memories of Christmas. One that stood out was at her Grandma Flemming's large Victorian home in Pittsburgh. It was 1933/4 - several years before my mother was born. She would have been about 9 years old and my Uncle John was just a few years older.  Despite the difficulties of the depression, the family was doing ok. They lived on the Southside of Oil City where my Grandparents had a little neighborhood grocery store. She and Uncle John walked to the Saturday afternoon show at the Latonia every week. They loved the cartoons and movies!
She described a very formal Christmas gathering at Grandma Flemming's house. While my grandparents were modestly successful, the Flemmings were part of the Steel Dynasty of Pittsburgh at that time. They had a huge Christmas tree, she said, that was nearly 2 stories tall. The children were gathered and each received one gift. Her gift was a Mickey Mouse watch. It was probably one of the first Mickey Mouse watches made.
Somewhere in my readings or watching historic programs I recall a statement that FDR may have influenced the kind of Christmas we now know. He was cited as having encouraged people to purchase one gift for loved ones during the depression as an economic stimulus. Prior to this, the tradition was to give home made Christmas gifts.  When I learned this, Aunt Dorothy's story came to mind. They received just one gift and the time was about right for having been inspired by FDR.
Above that, what is striking is that one gift - just one gift - can have meaning that transcends years and years. More than 60 years had passed when Aunt Dorothy told me that story. I believe, at the time, she was the last soul alive from that day in 1933 or 1934. She loved the cartoons and movies of the time. Now, years later, I hear a story about President Roosevelt and remember the story Aunt Dorothy told me about a Mickey Mouse watch she got for Christmas. So many stories of life are interconnected. A day - a memory - can bring us closer.
Let this day be one memory - one gift. It only takes one gift to transcend decades.

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