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December 29, 2023

Melvin from Oregon wrote to share memories of a couple of Christmases that were made very special, thanks to a grandfather who never forgot what it was like to be a kid at Christmas.

“Christmas 1944: I am four years old and my dad is still overseas, so mom and I are staying with my grandparents. Christmas eve, it's time for me to hang up my sock. I'm just getting ready to hang it on the mantle when grandpa comes in. He has a giant sock and a big metal wash tub. I ask him what he is doing, and this is what he tells me:

‘I'm going to hang this big old sock up.’ He hangs his sock up then he puts the wash tub under the sock. He shows me that there is a hole in the toe of the sock, and it has a tennis ball in the hole. He then tells me that ‘when Santa comes tonight, he will start putting good stuff in his big old sock, and the tennis ball will fall out.’ Santa will keep stuffing his sock and the presents will fall into the wash tub, and he will get way more stuff than I will in my little old sock.

Well, I'm only four years old, but I know this ain't right. I go running to grandma and tell her that grandpa is going to cheat Santa. Grandma says, ‘Don't worry, because I know that Santa is much smarter than your grandpa is.’ So I go off to bed, but I am not happy.

Christmas morning comes. I run downstairs and see that my grandpa has a sour look on his face. I see my sock has all kinds of good stuff in it. I look at grandpa’s sock, and the wash tub is full. It has an old rubber boot with a big hole in it, a big half-rotten squash, some chunks of coal, an old broken shovel etc., etc. I guess grandma was right after all. Santa is smarter than grandpa.”

The next year, Melvin’s grandpa was still putting creativity into Christmas…

“Christmas 1945.  I am five years old, and we are still staying with my grandparents…My father was in Japan in the Second World War, his two brothers were in the European theater.  All three came home OK. I thank God for that and for all of the men that have gone before.

We are trimming the Christmas tree. Grandpa comes in, and he has all of these walnuts that he has painted silver and put a yarn loop on to hang them with. I think they’re neat, but that’s about it.

Christmas morning, I come down and start opening my presents. Grandpa says, ‘Why don't you open one of those walnuts?’ I say ‘Naw, I got to open my presents’… Well grandpa keeps after me. Finally, I say, ‘Okay!’  So I crack a walnut open, and a penny falls out. Well, NOW I'm opening walnuts!  There's dimes, nickels, and pennies.  When I get done, I have about a dollar fifty, and that’s big money in 1945.

…My grandfather thought enough of me to take the time to cut the walnuts open and take out the meat for grandma to cook with. Then he put a coin in and glued each one back together, just to make a little five-year-old boy happy on Christmas morning.

Sixty-five years later, I don't remember anything else I got that Christmas.  But I remember the walnuts and the love that went into making them. That might be something for young parents to think about... It really is the little things that count the most.” 

Thanks, Melvin, for giving us all something important to remember before we go frantically hunting for whatever the latest “hot” gift is. It’s not so much the gift that we remember years later, but the person who loved us enough to give it to us that matters.    

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