The Gift Of Giving
One Christmas day at my grandparents' home in Brockton,
Massachusetts stands out in my mind. I'd written my usual letter
to Santa Claus the night before and left a bottle of Pepsi Cola
and a bag of potato chips in the living room for Santa to refresh
himself after a long, hard night of flying around the world to deliver
Christmas gifts to the children. That particular Christmas I asked for
a doll carriage for my Raggedy Ann doll so I could push her around
my neighborhood with my friends. I remember creeping downstairs
bright and early Christmas day and was ecstatic to see the little navy
blue doll carriage with a tag on it which said "To Nita from Santa." I ran
to my grandparents shouting, "Mama, Papa, I got it/ I got it! Santa Claus
brought me a doll carriage.," "You don't say/" said Grandma who was in
the kitchen cooking Cream of Wheat for breakfast. "Yes, he did. And he
ate all the food I left him too." "Is that right," said Grandpa Torrence teasingly.
I gobbled down a quick breakfast and then went back to open other gifts.
Later more relatives arrived. There was Dad and Eve Torrence from Boston,
all my Torrence aunts and uncles like Aunt Ruthie and her husband Uncle Eucley,
Uncle Buster and Uncle Butch from Brockton, my beautiful Aunt Esther and her
husband Uncle Frank from New York and too many cousins to name. With the
arrival of all these relatives came so many more gifts for me that I can't recall
all of them.
What stands uppermost in my mind about that Christmas in Massachusetts was
watching Aunt Ruthie with a huge package from her brother Uncle Buster. I
was curious to know what was in it. Was it a fur jacket? A dress? A blouse?
What could it be, I wondered. I watched wide-eyed as Aunt Ruthie unwrapped
the package. Just when it looked like she was about to pull out the gift, she
reached another smaller box. Everyone's eyes were on Aunt Ruthie. She
went to the next layer and sure enough there was more tissue paper and a
smaller box. This was so exciting! I had never seen anything like it. Then I
began guessing again what it could be - a music box, a silver hairbrush? I
had no idea what was in the box in a box in a box in a box. Meanwhile
everyone laughed, especially Aunt Ruthie and Uncle Buster as she opened
each box. I giggled with joy ever time she found another box. Finally Aunt
Ruthie reached a small grey box. I guess a ring, but no, she took out a stunning
gold Bulova watch. Everyone gasped in unison. Such an exquisite and expensive
gift., "Oh Buster, you shouldn't have. It's beautiful," said Aunt Ruthie. "Anything for
my sister," said Buster, giving her a kiss. Aunt Ruthie was so happy, but I noticed
that Uncle Buster was just as happy to have given her the gift as she was to receive
it. I finished opening my gifts, but after that excitement nothing could compare to it.
I've carried that picture of Uncle Buster's joy of giving with me all these years.