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Thursday, 22 December 2011

No Appreciation

By Herchel Newman aka Herm

It wasn't a fluffy, snow-white, greeting-card Christmas with a horse-drawn sleigh. It wasn't the fireplace that warmed us at Dad and Mom’s quaint two bedroom house on the hill. It was the gathering of family that greeted each new arrival as the guest of honor.

My wife, Lonnie, and I had similar childhood Christmas experiences. A little had to go a long way. We got new to cover our fingers and toes, heads and hinies and perhaps some games.

When there was a special gift, we learned to appreciate it. As a dad, I decided to give my children the gift of appreciation by not giving them everything they could imagine or that we could afford.

The problem: my children were also her’s. She wanted them to have the fluffy white Christmas with all Main Street had to offer and a black Scotty dog to run along side the sleigh. She was sure to fill in all the empty spots left by Santa.

My niece, Monica, wished for a little, red, leatherette jacket trimmed in rabbit fur. My sister, Velda, couldn't afford it but Granddad and Grandma wanted to make her feel special. They asked if she would allow them to buy the jacket. She consented.

We were all there packed in like cherries and raisins in a fruitcake. During the gift exchange, bags and boxes crisscrossed the room in a flurry. Wrapping paper flew like kites. When it all settled, the announcement came from Velda that a special gift was being given.

My daughter, Merit, at my side, generated her share of electricity the excitement of the announcement had caused. Dad and Mother sat on the sofa like king and queen of this frosted castle. Velda, held a box wrapped in living wrinkle free red paper, strapped with white ribbon and topped by a snowball size bow. Flash cubes fired from Christmas cameras.

Velda spoke, "I have the pleasure of presenting a gift this year on behalf of Mother and Daddy. It is a special gift for a special child. They have observed a grandchild and felt this was appropriate. Children, know there are unexpected rewards for hard work and good behavior. The special gift goes to..." I felt Merit press in on me.

Velda turned, meeting the gaze of each of the children. Dad, had his arm around Mother who had her hands clasped at her chin. Monica’s head was bowed. What was she thinking? "...to my lovely daughter, Monica!"

The applause erupted and grew as the children slowly joined in. Monica, raised her head. Her eyes popped with surprise. Her mouth opened wide but no sound came out and her arms seemed reluctant to reach because of disbelief. As though inside a dream, she moved in slow motion towards her mother. I was afraid the other kids were going to snatch the box and tear it open if she didn't hurry up.

Once touched, her hands quickened as she began to unwrap. She popped that snowball bow and ripped the ribbon. The beautiful paper gave up the ghost as it was torn and floated to the floor. Monica removed the top. She pulled back the tissue like it was a book of fairy tales.

This time when her mouth opened a scream came out. The family choir sang out that well known hymn, "Let us see." Dad laughed, Mother clapped and Velda assisted Monica in putting the red jacket on.

Once the snaps were all secured, Monica embraced herself and began to cry. Hearts linked in a chain of happiness and I'm pretty sure I saw Dad wipe his eyes. Merit stared at her cousin, obviously puzzled. She asked, "Daddy, why is Monica crying? I'd be laughing I'd be so happy."

I'm sure Monica didn't understand either. Crying was for hurt and pain. She was being carried away by a torrent of tears into a spillway of emotion.

I stooped to look in her eyes. I said, "She’s crying because she’s more than happy; she’s overjoyed."

She said, "I don't understand."

Cupping her cherub face in my hands, I said with a sigh, "I know you don't, Honey. I know you don't."

Merit’s birthday was January 8th. Her mother gave her a full length rabbit fur coat complete with hat and muffler. I took picture after picture. How cute she was. I stopped when I saw the tears coming from her eyes. Could she really be that appreciative?

The truth was, she was allergic to rabbit.

[INVITATION: All elders, 50 and older, are welcome to submit stories for this blog. They can be fiction, non-fiction, poetry, memoir, etc. PLEASE read instructions for submitting..]

Posted by Ronni Bennett at 05:30 AM | Permalink | Email this post



What a great story! I had to wipe the tears from my own eyes as I read about Monica opening that wonderful gift.

I loved the way the whole family came together to please one little girl. It is a true story of Christmas spirit and joy.

Then,reading that last line through my blurry eyes, I enjoyed a genuine chuckle about the rabbit allergy.

Excellent story..Merry Christmas..And don't give Lonnie the same card you gave her last year.


You have a great writing style, the way you expressed that whole special time. Please write more, I await your next tale.

I enjoyed the touching story and your writing style. Hope to hear more from you, Herm.

That was a GREAT story. I join the others to express my appreciation for the roll-a-coaster of emotions through which we were led by your story. I laughed out loud at the end but was equally touched by the description of your family's Christmas experience.
Michigan Grandma

Just lovely..family stuff rocks as my grandkids say..keep 'em coming...

Monica, is a grandmother now, but as sweet a neice as ever. Merit, is a new mommy who is double teaming with Lonnie to spoil her son.

I gave them each a copy of the long version. They love it and because you do also, it's a Christmas gift for me.

Thank you!

Let's see what else I may have... :-)

Wonderful family Christmas story; thanks for including us all in its enjoyment.I especially loved the allergy to rabbit fur.

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