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An Unexpected Christmas Gift

imagesChristmas, 1978. All the gifts, except two, had been opened. Two big square boxes wrapped in green foil and tied with red velvet ribbon and huge bows. Boxes big enough for small TVs or large radios or long winter coats.

“Open those two last,” Mom had said. So my brother, sister-in-law, Husband, and I opened all the other gifts – shirts, sweaters, gloves, coffee pots. “Now, Brenda and Susan, you can open your presents. But don’t let each other see.” I was perplexed. What would Mom and Dad get for my sister-in-law and me? And they always ‘evened out’ presents and there wasn’t another gift for my brother or Husband.

I tore a piece of the wrapping paper from a corner and saw a brown cardboard box. Dad said, “Your mother wrapped those gifts a long time ago so she’d be sure to have them ready for you girls.” His smile and wide-open eyes told me he was happy. Must be something he thinks we’ll like, I thought. Mom sat with her arms crossed in her lap and a sheepish grin. In past years, Mom and Dad sometimes made special gifts, like wooden magazine holders and crocheted afghans. Must be something like that.

I ripped the paper off one side of the box. “Is this really what’s inside?” I asked. Dad nodded. Mom grinned. The picture showed a pressure cooker. A big canner. Through the years, many times I’d helped Mom fill her canner with quart jars of green beans or vegetable soup or pears. But I’d never canned anything since I moved away from home. Why did I need a pressure cooker big enough to hold seven quart jars?

“Read the note your mother wrote. It’s inside the box.” Dad said.

“At the end of the instruction book,” Mom added.

By then both Brenda and I had opened our gifts, and with Dad’s help, we lifted shiny, heavy metal pressure canners out of the boxes. I took the top off the canner and found the instruction book inside. As I flipped through it looking for Mom’s handwriting, Dad said, “Read your mother’s note out loud.”

Christmas 1978

            Purchased Oct. 3, 1978 – Crouch’s Hardware

            Byrdstown, TN – Price $51.95

            The price is listed so 40 years from now, you can compare prices. I bought this on the last day of canning pears when I was good & tired. I knew if I waited, I’d decide it’s not a good present since you are smart enough to the get the unspoken message.

            Love Mom & Dad

           I got the message. As did Brenda, my brother, and Husband. Canning pears was the grand finale of my parents’ summer work. For many years, they had grown, harvested, and preserved berries, beans, corn, peas, potatoes, apples, and more – for themselves and for all of us. And they were tired.

Mom grinned. Dad’s face lit up with an ear to ear smile, and he said, “Next year, we’re playing more golf. We’ll grow a garden and even pick most things. And you’ll learn to use a canner just like your mother did.”

The next summer with Mom’s help, I canned beans, made pickles, and froze corn, berries, and apples. I made strawberry jam, grape jelly, and applesauce.

And when Christmas 1979 rolled around, Mom gave me a gift I truly appreciated. Four quarts of canned pears that she and Dad had picked from the tree in their backyard.

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2 Responses

  1. This is lovely, Susan, and a great insight into the people who knew how to live and thrive and pass their love and skills to those they loved.

    Like

  2. You have such found memories.

    Like

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