Another “copy” from one of my older blogs, edited only a little.
Not all my December nostalgia is triggered by the ornaments on my tree. Something as simple as a holiday catalog can send me back decades.
One of my favorite catalogs offers modern technology in nostalgic packaging. A photo of a 1950’s radio that in reality is a CD/DVD player, sends me back to my 11th Christmas.
Like a lot of kids, I thought the best gifts could be found in the Sears Roebuck catalog. (There was precious little advertising of kids’ toys on TV then, and even fewer families who had TVs.) As it turned out, my dad knew me better than I knew myself.
Morning came and with it a small note that directed me to get dressed, eat breakfast, brush teeth, and then go to the basement, where I’d find my gift.
Of course I ignored the first three directions. I raced down 13 steep, stone stairs past the octopus-like arms to the furnace and under the laundry still drying from yesterday’s wash.
Set up on our old oak table was a ream of paper, a cup with dozen newly sharpened #2 pencils, and a round eraser that pivoted above a stubbly black bristle brush. Clamped to the table’s edge was a hand-cranked pencil sharpener. And there, in the middle of all this largesse…a used Royal typewriter! The ‘e’ stuck and the center of the ‘o’ was filled with old ink. I didn’t care. I was sure that the ghost of authors past would imbue me with inspiration.
My dad’s grin was all the go-ahead I needed. I settled my skinny little 11-year-old butt on the wooden chair, rolled a sheet of paper into the platen, and with two fingers I carefully typed:
children’s book writer
I could hardly breathe. That anyone…especially my seemingly distant father…could know my deep, unspoken wish to write stories was unimaginable.
That Christmas was a long time ago and I am still in awe of the real gift–the knowledge that what matters isn’t the gift. It’s knowing what lies deep in the heart of the recipient.