Grandpa's Christmas Gift


Jauneta StoutThank you, Grandpa, for the wonderful gift you gave me the year I was eight. Christmas was always happy, even though times were “hard”.

Let me give you a little background: The old-timers called it the Depression. I was fortunate because we (my mother, dad, and little brother, Buddy) lived next door to my grandparents and their general store. On the south side of the state highway was a cornfield, a farmhouse, barn, and animals. On the north side was a series of about 20 houses with a grocer halfway between them. You see, in the olden days, the farmers had day laborers. Small houses were built in a cluster within walking distance of the farms and the general store. Most of the day laborers didn’t have cars. The men could walk to work, so they could get along pretty well without them.

The general store had a telephone in case of emergency and the store kept “book.” That meant customers could buy supplies and charge them, the transactions were kept in their book, and they paid the store when they got paid.

Since the farmers and the storekeeper were honest, everyone survived. At least, that was my child’s vision.

Now for the good part. Christmas Eve was a time of celebration at E.T. McDonald’s General Store. That’s what Grandpa had printed on the calendars that he passed out on that special night. The “hired hands” got paid, so they came to the store to pay their book; if they were lucky, there was some leftover money to buy supplies for the next week.

Grandpa and Grandma were generous, and this was their time for sharing. Weeks ahead they had put in orders for candy and tangerines. The task then was to fill brown paper bags with “treats” — candy topped with a citrus. A bag for everyone who came to the store that night.

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