Two weeks before Christmas, my pal Judy Sporer and I bundled up in our warmest coats, wound our scarves around our necks and faces, and trudged two miles in our Stadium Boots to Iron River to do our Christmas shopping. We each had a whopping $5 in our pockets.
At Newberry’s Five and Dime, for $.39, I found a deck of miniature playing cards for my sister Connie who had recently developed a mania for playing Solitaire. Then, I spotted a pink donkey planter for Mom for $.89 which I knew she would absolutely love. But I couldn’t see a thing for Dad, or my brother John.
We slipped on down the snow-covered sidewalk to Johnny’s Men Store. The place was loaded with shirts and ties, tie tacks, and—cuff links! A high school senior, my brother wore his only pair to every special event at school. Excited, I turned the little brown box over, but nearly fainted when I saw the price—$2!
Judy and I fled up the street to Schafer’s where the scents of pipes, tobacco, and shaving lotion tickled our chilly noses. Judy bought pretty bottles of cologne for her sisters and mom and some Old Spice aftershave for her brother and her dad. I was about to follow suit when I spotted something that made my heart leap—a reindeer poised in a pretty blue globe filled with water which, when turned upside down, caused “snow” to magically spin, sweep, and swirl lazily down on the winter scene. $1.50—and worth every penny.
With $2.22 left, I figured I could buy my brother’s gift and still have enough for a malted milk at Walgreen’s. I could already taste it!
We scoured the aisles at Monkey Wards, but found nothing. At Kromm’s Department Store, we poured over the men’s socks, ties, and hankies, but I knew nothing anywhere could compare to those classy cuff links at Johnny’s. I counted my money again, hoping I’d made a mistake the first time, but I hadn’t. I looked enviously at Judy, who’d made all her purchases and still had $.50 left, but I knew what I had to do.
Johnny wrapped the little brown box in tissue paper and put it and the receipt in a small brown bag, slipped my $2 into the cash register, and smiled. I knew I’d made the right decision.
At Walgreen’s, I got a little jittery watching Judy sip her malt but my 10 cent cherry coke wasn’t bad and I was happy as a lark imagining the look of disbelief in my brother’s eyes when he opened his gift on Christmas morning.
And he didn’t disappoint me. He beamed as he opened his box, complimented me on my discriminating choice of gifts, and said he’d wear the cuff links to his Hi-Y banquet coming up soon. I’d was absolutely thrilled.
I shall always remember that shopping day as one on which Judy and I discovered the true meaning of Christmas. Our joy was found in doing something special for those we loved. As we sunk our Stadium Boots back into the snowy drifts that covered the sidewalks, and set off for home in Dober Location, we smiled and hummed our favorite Christmas Carol, “Joy to the World.” We’d never felt so proud, so grown up, or so peaceful in all our eleven years. Knowing we had found presents that would surprise and please our families was the best Christmas gift of all.