Two weeks before Christmas 1950, 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 Newberryâ€™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 playingÂ Solitaire.Â Then, I spotted a pink donkey planter for Mom for $.89 which I knew she would absolutely love. But I couldnâ€™t see a thing for Dad, or my brother John.
We slipped on down the snow-covered sidewalk to Johnnyâ€™s Men Store. The place was loaded with shirts and ties, tie tacks, andâ€”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 priceâ€”$2!
Judy and I fled up the street to Schaferâ€™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 leapâ€”a reindeer poised in a pretty blue globe filled with water which, when turned upside down, caused â€śsnowâ€ť to magically spin, sweep, and swirl lazily down on the winter scene. $1.50â€”and worth every penny.
With $2.22 left, I figured I could buy my brotherâ€™s gift and still have enough for a malted milk at Walgreenâ€™s. I could already taste it!
We scoured the aisles at Monkey Wards, but found nothing. At Krommâ€™s Department Store, we poured over the menâ€™s socks, ties, and hankies, but I knew nothing anywhere could compare to those classy cuff links at Johnnyâ€™s. I counted my money again, hoping Iâ€™d made a mistake the first time, but I hadnâ€™t. I looked enviously at Judy, whoâ€™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 Iâ€™d made the right decision.
At Walgreenâ€™s, I got a little jittery watching Judy sip her malt but my 10 cent cherry coke wasnâ€™t bad and I was happy as a lark imagining the look of disbelief in my brotherâ€™s eyes when he opened his gift on Christmas morning.
And he didnâ€™t disappoint me. He beamed as he opened his box, complimented me on my discriminating choice of gifts, and said heâ€™d wear the cuff links to his Hi-Y banquet coming up soon.Â Â Iâ€™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, â€śJoy to the World.â€ť Weâ€™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.
In Memory of JudyÂ 1939 – 2000
As the lights of the season sparkle and shine in celebration in and around your homes in neighborhoods near and far, I wish you all the joyous blessings of Christmas and peaceÂ for the new year.Â Â Â Â Â Â Â