Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: Green (10/22/09)
TITLE: The Hunting for the Green
By Debra Martinez
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The four of us married the same year. That sounds odd, since there was an eight year age spread, but I, the oldest, managed to escape old-maid-dom in the same year that the youngest tied the knot. That year, a new Christmas tradition began: breakfast at Daddy’s house followed by The Hunting for the Green.
The first year, we were totally clueless. After our meal of country ham, biscuits, and red-eye gravy, we gathered in the large front room to exchange gifts. This was a daunting task, as I had never yet felt that I had pleased Daddy with my selections for him. This first year as “adults”, each couple received an identical square box, big enough to hold a television. Opening the top, we were met by another box, and another, before finding a brick made by Dad’s own hands cradled in tissue, a hundred dollar bill taped to each side. What a surprise.
What fun! But we wondered what to expect the next year, speculating on whether this was a one-year-wonder, so out of character did we find it.
The next year, it was balloons, each containing different denominations of the green stuff, and we went home delighted with this new side of our curmudgeon father.
As the years progressed, we experienced more surprises: milk jugs stuffed with one dollar bills with their tops(oops!) super-glued on, huge bags of leaves with the cash mixed right in, miniature screens that Dad created for us, a note attached asking if we would destroy his handiwork just to claim our prizes. Each of us found the money rolled up in one side of our screen, and each repaired it carefully, for he had taught us the screen-making skill many years before.
A favorite involved a Planter’s cheese puff can, the one with the metal seal and yellow top. When we pulled off the top, the can was still closed, and we all sat there, puzzled, and then politely thanked our dad for the cheese balls. Finally, one of us popped the top and found the two greenbacks inside. He had drilled a hole in the side of the can, rolled the bills, worked them inside, then glued the pieces back! We were amazed at the time it had taken him to creatively give us what he knew young couples needed most: extra cash.
When the grandchildren arrived, they were gifted in a simpler, but still creative hunt. One of our toughest years was based on candy. The kids got containers of tootsie rolls, but one of those had been tampered with, containing Grampa’s money. Ours was tougher, and kept us fooled for a long time. We got a box of Sugar Daddy Jr.s, and when we opened them, could see that some looked fatter, but the reward was not to come that easily. Those bars were simply wrapped with aluminum foil. (I could imagine his glee as we found nothing in any of the ONE HUNDRED bars!) Finally, finally, I got it! The package contained two layers of bars, with a large white cardboard rectangle separating them. Dad had actually layered another one to it, gluing the edges tightly. When I was able to find an opening, I found the cash, lying innocently between the two perfectly aligned sheets.
There came a year we would never forget. Dad presented each couple with a Sunday edition of the Atlanta Journal, tossing the heavy bundle into our laps as he challenged us to hunt. (Was that a smile I saw behind the challenge?) After years of practice, we knew what to do, and we dived right in, looking for the green stuff. After covering the whole edition, we were puzzled and a little weary, but all slowly repeated the process, one section at a time. Finally, we spotted it, taped to an ad in such a way as to blend right in. Not green, this time, but a personal check, and not for our usual $200, either.
Though the hunt is now behind us, the experience helped each of us to find a more lasting treasure, one hidden just as securely within a very complicated man. Through actions, rather than words, Dad demonstrated his approval and love.
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