My First Gift

I can't pinpoint the moment when I started to actually remember the times in my life.  Really I'm guessing nearly none of us can do that.

My sister seems to have a good memory and we joke it starts with recalling what we had for breakfast that morning.

Just a little guy when I fell from a children's pool into the big pool at a motel during a family trip from Wisconsin to Nebraska, I can still clearly see my dad's hand reaching through the water to stop my descent.  I may have been three or four then, I am nor sure.

It's at Christmas when one of my earliest memories returns, about Christmas shopping.

Little as I was at the time (I think it was either during first or second grade and my hunch is first grade.  There's no one around anymore who could know.), I know my dad and I went one night after supper to search for a Christmas gift for mom.

I'm not sure if Dad gave me a budget or if I was clutching a few dollars that evening when we drove to the stores in downtown Janesville.  JC Penney and Bostwick's department stores were the places we bought most of our clothes and gifts.

The Janesville Mall wasn't even an idea yet at this time.  You shopped in the stores downtown where the clerks knew you and you knew them.

My memory doesn't include what else was considered, but I just knew this candle would be just perfect for mom and the decorations she put out for Christmas.

That's kind of where my memory stops.  Except for this, I saw mom display the candle which told me she liked it.

And more, she put it out every year.  Every year.

It was probably a few years after graduating college when I noticed mom still put it on one of the living room tables each holiday.  

Almost 50 years later, the holiday candle is part of our Christmas display, stored in the original box which lists Penn Candle in Pennsylvania as the creator.

The candle is a little worn, but undamaged.  The patina of time and memories have make this little tchotchke pretty important these days.

Not just because it's been around the family at Christmas, but it shows how Mom demonstrated how she loved her little boy by taking care of his gift and using it the rest of her life.

After all these years, my gift to her is now her gift to me.