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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Orange (the color) (11/19/09)

TITLE: Gram's Greatest Gift


For the rest of us, filling stockings at Christmas is an unnecessary chore, but for Gram, it is a necessity. Even in the toughest of times, when she knows that you can't hardly afford to purchase the gifts that you did buy, she will ride you constantly if you've neglected to fill everyone's stocking with a little something extra special for Christmas. And, it isn't worth the effort to explain that you've spent all that you possibly could, because Gram only sees that as a cop-out. That's not because she is overly wealthy either. She isn't by any sense of the word, but she did have much more money in her married life than she ever did as a child, and now as a widow.

You see, Gram was not just a child of the Depression, her family was dirt poor long before that fiasco hit, and often, her father couldn't even afford to get a tree. But every year, no matter how poor or well their finances were, he always made it a point to ensure that all seven of his children had at least a little something special in their stockings.

More often than not, they were filled with penny candies and an orange or tangerine, but even those edible gifts were as precious to his children than any doll or shoes or slingshot could every be.

By 1929, Gram's siblings were grown and had already moved out of the house, but Gram was just a few days short of eight when the stock market crashed, so she spent the rest of her childhood living by the old maxim: "use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without." And, consequently, that is why she is so particular about at least having some candy and an orange in each and every one of our stocking on every Christmas morning.

In fact, the orange alone has become such a treasure for her that to this day, while the rest of us are gulping down several sixteen ounce glasses of the juice each day, she continues to limit herself to a mere four ounces every morning for breakfast. We tease her about only drinking "a thimble full," but deep down inside, we know that "old habits die hard." And, as the poet Anatole France once said, "poverty taught me the true value of the gifts useful to life...."

So, while it may seem to some that giving an edible Christmas gift to a child is an awful thing to do, for the child herself, it can be the greatest gift ever, because the lessons it teaches about love can truly outlast the life expectancy of the greatest of tangible toys.

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Member Comments
Member Date
Lollie Hofer 11/27/09
I didn't realize someone knew me well enough to write my biography. We were "dirt poor" when I was a child but we always had oranges and nuts for Christmas. I still put out the oranges and nuts. The Christmas stocking is absolutely the most important part of our family Christmas. Thanks for sharing a story that means a lot to me personally.
Marita Vandertogt11/28/09
What a beautiful story... and beautifully written .. brings us back to the basics of life.
Lisa Johnson11/30/09
I remember when our church would give all of us kids a brown paper bag with an orange, nuts, and a handful of peppermints in Sunday school... this was years ago... but I remember how I looked forward to those brown paper bags. Great story.