Brian has always enjoyed Halloween. While he doesn’t do anything with the Christmas tree other than tell me if it is leaning to one side (a particular pet peeve of his), and yes, tell me it’s pretty once it’s all decked out, he is the one who carves our pumpkins.
At this stage in the game of life, I’d be content to plug in a fake one and carry on, but not him. He always makes a production of selecting an annual pumpkin or two and carving them.
I came across this photo of him with a Parke County pumpkin 40 years ago. This was taken in his parents’ Rockville, Indiana basement the first weekend I met them.
We had been to the Parke County Covered Bridge Festival where he snagged a pumpkin (I probably got one too but don’t remember that). It was my 19th birthday weekend and Brian’s mother surprised me with a gift, a new wallet.
I’m pretty sure she made pumpkin pie. Boy, she could bake pies! In the fall there were always pumpkin pies on her counter top.
I have fond memories of trick-or-treating as a kid, throwing "spook-house" basement parties for the neighbor kids in my family's rustic basement, canvassing the neighboring farms for Trick-or-Treat for UNICEF and then going to the church basement for a party. And who can forget the full-sized chocolate bars out of Philomath?
I'm seeing a trend here ... Halloween and basements.
Then came the years of our boys and their Halloween parties and trick-or-treating. This is my favorite Halloween photo of Sam and Ben. It's actually one of my all-time favorite pictures of them period.
Last year, Brian had a little issue with his pumpkin. He carved it and set it on the porch. I wasn't paying much attention and didn't connect the dots when he asked if we had any Duct Tape. I told him we did and asked why.
"Oh, I probably won't need it," he hedged. I still didn't think anything of it.
Until the next day.
His carved pumpkin had Duct Tape wrapped around its head.
"I cut his nose off," Brian confessed.
I roared with laughter.
"It won't even show when the lights are out," he insisted.
To my surprise, he was right. The pumpkin looked just fine -- in the dark.
Here's this year's duo, carved yesterday while I was at work. Pretty cute.
What are your special Oct. 31 memories?
As for leaf color, I can’t say this October – so far – is a ringer. But it’s been a beautiful week all the same. Brian and I usually fly pretty low-key with birthday and anniversary celebrations, but this week we’ve been extra blessed!
On Tuesday, my boss Katie surprised me with a cake, balloon, and card signed by everyone in the building, and a beautiful bouquet of seasonal flowers.
Here it is Saturday and the flowers are just as pretty today as they were several days ago.
Yesterday, Lisa Perry, our newspaper editor who preceded Katie, was in town for her annual community walk through New Castle highlighting such stories as that of the 104-year-old unsolved mystery of Catherine Winters, a little girl who famously has never been found, making her the oldest-known unsolved child disappearance in Indiana history, along with some other tales.
Lisa and her late mother, Charlene Perry, have published books and written extensively about Catherine. But before her annual stroll through town, she took time to have lunch with her cronies at the paper.
Last night, Sam and Allison hosted an anniversary dinner honoring her grandmother Jo, her parents, John and Carla, and Brian and me as well as themselves. ALL of us got married the same October weekend. Allison’s grandmother and late grandfather were married 66 years ago tomorrow, her parents 34 years tomorrow, and Sam and Allison will celebrate five years tomorrow – all married in the same downtown Indianapolis church! For Brian and me, today is our 39th wedding anniversary. My brother Tim and wife Jeannie got married 46 years ago yesterday.
Allison’s brother and his wife, Mike and Lauren, as well as Ben joined us and it was a most pleasant evening featuring a home-cooked meal by Sam and Allison and plenty of talking and watching the MLB playoffs.
Allison surprised me with a tiny birthday cake – a little bigger than cupcake-sized, and I wish I had taken a photo! It was adorable. And, they all sang “Happy Birthday.” A sweet night.
Do you ever have something random happen that makes you feel like “an adult in the room?” This week for me it’s new “adult” table lamps for our bedroom night stands.
For my birthday and our anniversary, Brian and I went shopping for night-stand lamps. In late spring we bought a new bedroom suit, our first since 1983. We thought it was time. Have you ever wondered why these sets only come with one night stand? I have! This time we bought an extra.
I didn’t mention that I would like matching new lights for the stands. I figured all summer that when Brian asked what I wanted for my birthday, I’d have that answer in my back pocket.
I don’t know what style they are, or what era. I just know that we agreed that we like them, they are large and give out good light. We both spend a lot of time in our bedroom watching TV, reading, or working on the computer or projects. They work!
So today, another beautiful day. The week ahead is supposed to be seasonably chilly and maybe blustery too. After we get our grocery shopping done, we’re going to put away the porch furniture and tidy things up for the fall. I’m going to cut down our ornamental grasses out front and toss the summer plants. If we had hatches, I’d batten them down.
As for this trio of trees in our back yard, I tend to view them as a seasonal barometer. I’ve photographed them when they were drenched with ice and snow, making a crystal winter-scape, and when they were drenched in white blossoms. But in all the 19 years we’ve lived here, these trees have never done what they are doing now. They are covered in red berries! They are serving as bird feeders to happy birds who come and go and enjoy these fruits. One large flock of birds even happily stopped by as though they were visiting a birdie Golden Coral. They ate and were in the air again.
Usually the leaves on these trees are long gone by now. Sometimes the leaves even fall in the summer. But this year, this …
What a beautiful October surprise.
Say what you will about love and marriage, but most girls dream of meeting Mr. Right. In my great-niece Nicki Barrett's case, make that Mr. Wright. As of 4:30 p.m. Saturday, she became Mrs. Wright.
The two are special to me because Nicki is a blood relative (I'm her mother Marlene Thompson's aunt, as in the sister of Marlene's late brother, David Jobe). But there's another reason they are special. They live in and are remodeling the home where I grew up on the old Jobe family homestead in Union County. Yes, it's on Jobe Road. That's about as down-home-from-the-heart as it gets. And I am delighted to see this couple make their home there.
The two had Brian, my brother Tim, and sister-in-law Jeannie, and me out last October to show us their progress. I blogged about it on Oct. 15, 2016.
Their talents aren't limited to remodeling an old farmhouse. They also prepared the food for their wedding reception (including the beautiful cakes), made the decorations and Nicki even crafted the boutonnieres and bridal bouquets. It was all country, all the way.
The site is a race-horse training grounds deep in the countryside of Fayette County around Waterloo. Surprisingly, there had never been a wedding on the property before, but it was an ideal venue for this energetic couple.
I thought the jockey-inspired men's attire was a perfect touch for the setting, don't you?
In fact, you might say that everything was just exactly Wright.
All the best to you both.
If it’s August, we might be moving someone somewhere.
I figure from 2005 until now, we’ve relocated one or the other of our two sons 10 times. I could be off one or two moves, but who’s counting?
There were the college moves, then the apartment ones, and one into Sam and Allison’s home -- all in the eighth month of the year. The hottest month of the year.
Last August no one moved as Ben decided he’d do one more year where he was. A reprieve!
But then came summer 2017 and plans to find a different apartment. What’s different this time is that there’s no roomie. It’s his own place.
We put in a long day over the weekend, blessed with older son, Sam and wife Allison helping with the heavy lifting. There were a variety of challenges, as there are for all moves, but this one had a warm-up round of lugging Ben’s incredibly heavy loveseat up the stairs and pivoting into his new apartment.
Then the moment of truth came when the even heavier couch went up. It took a couple of tries before the four of them gave it the air time it needed to clear the railings and make it upstairs. Things looked almost too scary for me to even watch, but finally it arrived to the second floor with furniture, railing and people all intact. Thank you, Lord! Things were certainly looking iffy for a while there.
The guys are already talking about having some of their Thursday-night football gatherings at Ben’s place. Even though he’s been out of the nest for a while, this move feels like a new start in a new way.
Of course, Brian and I have had our own share of summer moves. The only times we’ve ever moved, in fact, were once in June and the other times in July. Plenty of heat and sweat to go around then, too.
What about you? What months did you move? Have you moved your share of kids into new digs in August?
Today we celebrated a family milestone. Our daughter-in-law Allison received her master's degree in special education from Ball State University. Interestingly enough, Allison's sister-in-law, Lauren, got her master's degree from Purdue University this spring to become a nurse practitioner.
We're honored that Allison, Sam, Allison's Grandma Jo Jo, parents John and Carla and brother and sister-in-law Michael and Lauren allowed Brian, Ben, and I to host a luncheon in Allison's honor following the morning ceremony.
It was an early Saturday morning. The ceremony started at 10, but my morning began at 4:30 when yet another night-time thunderstorm woke me up. I fretted that we would lose electricity and in the process create problems for the pulled pork, salads and full ice basket that were ready for the luncheon -- not to mention for my unwashed hair! Since there was no way I could be seen in public without decent hair, I washed it quickly during the storm and set it in rollers.
Of course with all the commotion going on, Reggie got up to potty in the storm, and then we bunked on the couch for a couple hours. I must have fallen deeply asleep. I don't know if it was the rollers affecting my brain, but I had some terrible dreams, something unusual for me. At least it was a relief to wake up and find they were FAKE DREAMS. No REAL NEWS there. Whew! And the storm had passed.
Ben arrived on time and we were out the door a little after 8. Since we had plenty of time, Ben requested that we drive around to look over his college stomping grounds, including a cruise past the Light Street house he and three friends rented for two years. How is it that he's been out of college four years already? How quickly those years passed, as well as the four after them.
We caught up with Sam and the Parents at Worthen Arena where we found a good stretch of seating. It wasn't long before we spotted Allison.
A side note because there are a lot of teachers in our world. Of the summer graduates at this university known for educating teachers, guess how many undergraduate educators received their degrees today? Would you believe seven? What will be the ramifications ahead for Hoosier schools with a figure so low?
After the ceremony, a quick stop for a photo op with the new grad and her fan club.
Back at the ranch ... a late lunch.
Brian's family contains a number of career educators, besides himself with 40 years in the classroom and office under his belt. We have retired educators brother Steve and sister-in-law Linda Cronk. There were also his Great-Aunts Lee and Glad. And, we have numerous friends who either worked or still work in the trenches.
An antique teacher's-desk bell, which looks right out of Little House on the Prairie, has come down in our family. It seemed this was the perfect occasion to hand it off to the next generation, so Brian presented it to Allison.
I had planned for a while on a Ball-jar theme, ordering flowers from a local grower who sells them at the Pendleton Farmer's Market. Just a couple days ago I added a school theme, largely due to remembering that we had a nice stash of textbooks of more than a century vintage from my side of the family. One belonging to my Grandpa Roscoe Jobe contains his signature and is dated 1903 with an earlier copyright. We thought Allison might enjoy those books and passed them down.
Sam's great-grandfather Roscoe Jobe used this book in 1903. When picking up the cake yesterday, I noticed the abundance of school supplies. So I snagged a few, wrapped them, and just for fun, drew for door prizes of giant erasers, glue, Crayons and a duo of peanut butter and jelly.
It was a lovely day. Congratulations again, Allison!
Just the other day I posted on Facebook that my two best tips for local authors are to 1. Don't leave home without them (books), and 2. Always look for the blessing in any book related situation, because there is always at least one.
Yesterday afternoon I gave a talk to the Widowed Persons social group in Richmond. There were 22 present, and almost all of them took part in my audience-participation activity. One thing that surprised me was that almost half of of the attendees were men. I think it's great that the fellas attend and take part. I guess it was a false stereotype on my part that it would mostly be women present. The group has been directed for 13 years by Edna Mikesell, and it is clearly her joy to lead.
So once the program ended, and it was time for anyone interested to pick up a signed book or stop by to chat, the lady above, Cindy, decided to purchase both books. She told me that she knew some folks in Liberty, and named the Brock family. I told her I have a cousin named Carol Brock. Carol's mom and mine were sisters.
Cindy couldn't believe it. "You're a Jobe?" she asked not far into the next layer of genealogy. She had no idea! To shorten the story, let's leave it that her grandmother, Mary, and my mother, Martha, were sisters. So that makes us distant cousins. It was a fun surprise we celebrated with a selfie and agreed to friend each other on Facebook.
After connecting with a relative, I decided to look around the Richmond Mall. The last time I visited there was probably 1981, the year we moved away from the area. But before that, I grew up with this the only mall we visited: For clothes, and appliances, for cloth to make 4-H clothes, for Christmas gifts.
You could have fooled me because it had changed so completely that I never would have recognized it had I not known where I was. One big change is the mall's anchor store, Dillard's. I had never been to a Dillard's! I had seen the store advertised in, I believe, southern-style magazines. Friend Sandy, who dresses so great, has referenced Dillard's several times.
So I went in to see what the fuss is about. I loved the place. The clothes called my name, and so did the attractive housewares. But what I really needed were, umm, undergarments. You know, umm, bras.
I walked around the nice umm, foundations department, lost in a sea of beige and black and aqua and every other color of underthings. This is the kind of department that leaves me frustrated, and maybe that is exactly why I don't buy new, umm, underthings very often.
The clerk was friendly and asked if I needed help. So I thought for a minute. Yes! Yes, indeed I do need help. I asked if I could be measured for the right bra size. My friend had done this very thing several years ago in Marshall Field's in Chicago, but I had never taken the plunge.
Maybe it was a combination of the lovely department store, or the fact that I didn't need to rush home, or that my own bra's wire was stabbing me in the back. No, make that side!
Being measured for a bra size is a discreet process, and within moments I learned why my bras didn't fit like gloves. Not only were they old and had spent too many rounds in the washer and dryer when they should have been hand-washed and hung up to dry, but they were the wrong cup size, along with the wrong width! Who knew?
When she brought me a suggested bra, to try on for confirmation of size and adjustment, I knew that I had been trying to fit the girls into a Pinto, and my Porsche had just arrived!
It fit so well I wore it home ... and bought two more.
Then today, I had what I figured would be another potentially tough mission. In March, we bought Ben a birthday suit. Ha! I wonder how often people get birthday suits for their birthdays. A very nice Macy's at Castleton employee, Anita, who specializes in men's clothing, helped us out and fitted Ben for the new ensemble..
Well, Sunday he brought home the pants part of the suit. There was a rip in the back, and not in the seam, either. He didn't think he snagged it on anything. The tear is a mystery and even a fantastic seamstress couldn't fit it to look right. I decided to take the pants back to the store and see if there was any kind of discount or provision to be made.
No offense to any other clerk, but I didn't want them. I only wanted Anita. I spotted her and she asked if she could help me! Bingo! She even remembered me! I told her that the suit is beautiful and that Ben even landed a new job in it. However, we had a problem. She took a look at it, and said we could swap them out for another pair. She found the right size and color, did the paperwork, and after I thanked her and took a picture of her holding the new pants and giving the thumbs up to text Ben, I walked out one happy customer.
So if you need a new suit or help in men's clothing, go see Anita. Tell her I sent you.
Then in Penney's, on my way to the car, I happened upon a table of capris in exactly the style I like, with plenty of color choices and my size available. Hot dog! They were on sale for $17.99 each! I picked up two pair. But at the register, my two capris rang up to $99! I told the clerk that wasn't right. She did some computer work and the total came to $28 and change. I told her that still wasn't right, and that I would owe more. She repeated the price of $28 and change!
Three great shopping experiences in a row.
Now I need to stay out of the stores for a while!
Donna Cronk / New Castle Courier-Times photos // Jack Claborn visits with National Road Yard Sale Founder and Chairperson Patricia McDaniel as they prepare for the annual 800-plus-mile yard sale, May 31-June 4. Treasures, bargains and ... goats. Pat will be featured in a 7:30 a.m. segment Wednesday morning on Fox 59-Indianapolis TV.
Every year, along our nation's first cross-country route, U.S. 40, historically called The National Road, a continuous yard sale takes place on farms, at homes, businesses and in pop-up locations. This goes on for more than 800 miles, from Baltimore, Maryland, to St. Louis. This year it runs May 31-June 4. Jump on anywhere. While previewing the sale, I became inspired to write this column, which ran Sunday in the New Castle Courier-Times.
When you’ve been married as long as I have, there are certain things you don’t discuss. For example, goats.
Brian doesn’t understand what I see in a goat. He thinks they are stinky and without purpose. He doesn’t find them humorous or interesting in any way.
I happen to love goats, and can easily overlook any perceived flaws. I think they are funny and I am interested in how they seem to look at life differently than the other farm animals, let alone the humans.
If we drove by a pasture with a goat standing on the roof of a shed or in any other unexpected place on the property, you would find me laughing and craning my neck for an extended look. You would find Brian annoyed not only by the goat, but at my amusement.
It’s a topic on which we agree to disagree.
Maybe it’s a rural thing, because quite out of the blue, and without realizing that goats were a topic of dispute in my home, a friend from my hometown said that her requirement for buying a vehicle is that it is, and I quote, “big enough to haul a goat.”
I do know that I will never own a live goat. Never mind that it would be highly inappropriate and probably even a zoning violation to have one in the subdivision where we live. But also, I respect Brian’s feelings, however misguided they may be, about this topic.
I’m sure he would say he has shown a good measure of tolerance by never complaining about my collection of more than 100 Christmas sheep ornaments. (I’ve never seen a goat ornament. Wonder why.) He doesn’t understand the sheep collection, or why I like them so much, either, but he doesn’t make it an issue. We choose our battles.
It’s the same way, I suppose, that I tolerate the thick smears of peanut butter he leaves on table knives, the butter able to stick to the blades regardless of a run through the dishwasher, or the way he has been known to leave empty containers in the pantry or fridge. I don’t say a word. Well, mostly I don’t.
So I found myself in a marital quandary.
When interviewing Jack Claborn about his barnyard folk art, which includes huge, colorful chickens and round, life-size pigs, I mentally gasped when my eyes fell on the whimsical goat. Perfect!
I don’t know what the going price is for a real goat, but for one that’s a metal piece of folk art made in Texas, it’s $50.
What would Brian say if I texted him that I had just bought a goat for $50? Surely when he got home and saw that the animal grazed silently in the landscape and would require no feed, and there was no chance it would randomly appear on top of a car or stray into the neighbors’ garden, he would be relieved.
But that wouldn’t be the only option. Since he sees no charm in a real goat, it’s highly unlikely that a metal one would provide it.
My mind fought itself. Oh, I wanted that metal goat! What an unusual nod to my rural heritage it would be in the middle of our landscaping. It would be like a perfectly acceptable gazing ball ir bird bath – only not.
No one else would have a metal goat. Perhaps it would become a conversation piece. “The Cronks? Oh yeah, the ones with the garden goat.”
I would laugh at such a reference. Brian would not.
To my way of thinking, not getting my goat is our loss.
To Brian’s, well, let's just say he'd rather have the cash.
Donna Cronk is Neighbors Editor of The Courier-Times and edits the quarterly her magazine for women. Connect with her at email@example.com or call 765-575-4657. In her free time she enjoys speaking engagements encouraging people to live their dreams.
Going into last weekend I wondered how I would get everything done. Ever have a few-days period like that? Everything planned was good, but it was all a matter of timing to pull off.
We couldn’t get together with our daughter-in-law Allison on her birthday, so we had a belated celebration. When Brian reminded me that his brother planned to spend Friday night with us as a stop en route to a convention, it seemed the perfect time to have the kids in and call it a dinner party!
We all looked forward to it.
I can’t remember the last time I baked a birthday cake. Usually we get one at the grocery store or maybe an ice cream cake from Dairy Queen, but there was something nice about digging out the round cake pans and turning on the oven, going old school.
The party was fun, complete with a funny little game we made up (Brian and Steve helped me with the questions) called How Well Do You Know Allison? I learned that my DIL and I share our favorite color (blue) as well as our least favorite color (orange).
After Sam and Allison went home at 11, I went to bed, Steve went to bed, but Brian and Ben stayed up and watched basketball until 2 a.m. Takes me back to the days when we visited Brian’s folks in Rockville and Brian and his dad stayed up late after the rest of us called it a night.
Steve was up early Saturday to drink coffee with Brian before Steve left for his Kiwanis district meeting. I headed out soon after for the inaugural Alpha Tau Chapter of Tri Kappa’s Book & Author Luncheon.
Here’s my little secret. Because I felt the need to tweak and practice my 10-minute speech, I left the house early enough to pull over at my little "speech staging area" in a remote country church parking lot. I’ve stopped there, at Soul Harbor, a few times to quietly sit in the car and read a presentation aloud without prying eyes or people looking funny at the crazy woman talking to herself.
I find that having something on paper is quite different from speaking the words aloud, and so I try to run through speeches verbally several times before presenting them.
The day was, at least by all the accounts I heard, a huge hit! About 140 gathered for the fundraiser luncheon and to hear brief talks from each of the six local authors featured. I know that I left there inspired by what each had to say.
I was especially intrigued to hear local florist Teresa Southerland speak about how she has gotten gigs from The Smithsonian writing scientific copy for children’s booklets and pamphlets.
It’s encouraging to hear that unexpected opportunities abound out there beyond our own communities. She does a great job.
I did double duty, taking some photos at the event and then going back to the office to upload for the newspaper.
Sunday I had to be at church before the first service as it was my rotation to work the information desk. Our small life group also was tapped to prepare and serve the welcome lunch and we were invited to stay for the meal. It all went together so smoothly!
We were prepared to do clean up but told there was a crew for that so we got to leave and enjoy the afternoon before it was time to gather for our evening life group meeting. Brian and I even had time to get our weekly grocery shopping done, a surprise that I didn’t think we’d get done over the busy weekend.
It was a fulfilling three days to have so much planned but also to see it all unfold in positive ways. Missions accomplished!
TOP left: Chatting at the Alpha Tau Chapter of Tri Kappa luncheon.
TOP, right: Fruit-flavored water has appeal.
CENTER, left: The meal is served.
CENTER, right: Ruth Ann and Dick Willis look over some of Teresa Southerland's educational materials. She is a local florist and was commissioned by The Smithsonian.
BOTTOM, left: Citrus and floral water.
BOTTOM right: Our daughter-in-law Allison blowing out her birthday candles.
I can’t leave behind our trip to Minneapolis without a post about The News Room.
This is the most unique restaurant I’ve ever visited. It was a couple of blocks from The Hyatt Regency, where we stayed and we had to pass it on our walk to the light rail line.
Our little crew humored me and agreed we needed to enjoy a meal there. Meanwhile, Brian and I speculated on the restaurant’s roots. We guessed that it was surely once the site of a real newspaper, reinvented as a restaurant.
The top of the building has a newsboy and the restaurant's name wraps in a striking fashion. I wondered if the interior would contain décor somehow representing the newspaper industry. Or if the menu offerings would boast clever print-journalism terms for the offerings.
As soon as we walked through the front door for an early lunch, I was in awe! Copies of newspapers were framed and also upsized into wallcoverings throughout the restaurant with screaming headlines of the top news stories of the past century.
Theme areas included sports, hard news and entertainment. Coordinating newspapers appeared in those areas. For example, the bar area had an enlarged newspaper headline and story announcing the end of prohibition. The ladies room’s dominant headline and story is from Variety proclaiming that “Women get the vote.”
Overhead were a variety of TVs with live news and sports programs, providing a current news feed overlaying the historic print ones.
We learned that the building itself has nothing to do with a real newspaper. The one-of-a-kind restaurant was simply the creative concept of the owner and it’s been around for a dozen years in the heart of downtown Minneapolis at 990 Nicollet Mall at 10th Street.
Even though I wandered around and took photos and asked questions of the good-natured staff (having ink in my blood and all) my dining partners were there for a meal, not a habitat experience, so we ordered and enjoyed our food.
I had a California turkey and avocado panini. The guys had clubs. I’m drawing a blank on what Allison had but we all agreed it was a great stop on our journey. We ordered from menus designed to look like late-breaking Extra! editions.
The server said sometimes people call The News Room with news tips. We didn’t have a news tip but we left her a nice one.
Answer this without thinking. What is your most memorable Christmas gift?
When I see that question, the first thing that comes to mind is a stick of deodorant.
The year was 1981 and we were invited to a staff Christmas party for my husband’s school co-workers. We had moved to that west-central Indiana community the summer before, and while the job came with a raise, there were financial setbacks on the other side of the balance sheet. I no longer brought in a paycheck because with the move, the plan was for me to go to college full time, year-round, until I had a journalism degree. That meant college fees and gas to get there.
Not only that, but we left behind in Richmond a mobile home on which we were making payments, plus lot rent, as we had been unable to sell it. To make it even harder, the trailer park wouldn’t let us put out a for sale sign.
We were making it. But things were tight. So tight, in fact, that the idea of buying the gag gift for the party seemed too much to ask. So I scrounged around and wrapped up some odd thing that we had around the house. Surely, we would get in exchange some equally odd thing from someone else’s house.
Instead, our gag gift was a new stick of brand-name deodorant. The person who brought it had obviously paid for it, and it was nice and useful. This meant one less item on our personal shopping list. I remember this because now it seems comical, the look on our faces, as though we had won a lottery.
Had anyone been watching our reactions, that person would surely be confused by our inappropriate glee.
We told this story to a friend who is a couple decades older. She has a similar story that involves the Christmas her husband bought her a potato masher. The circumstances were different but the sentiment the same. They were young, and broke, and the present was a bright spot.
I suppose there are a number of morals to these stories: That living within your means is superior to buying or receiving gifts that break your budget. That delayed gratification is better than trying to grab it before its time — and then feel sick about the bills later. That at best, material gifts bring only temporary happiness. Or how sometimes shiny new presents only mean a trip to the store the day after Christmas to stand in line and return them.
But also, stories such as the gag gift and the potato masher bring to mind special memories of a place and a time, of making do but not minding because you are with the ones you love.
I’ve got 58 Christmases under my belt, but it would take me a while to remember many of the gifts, lovely though they have been, that have been under our trees. Yet that deodorant stick always comes to mind this time of year. And I smile with the memory.
This column appeared Sunday, Dec. 18, 2016 in the New Castle, Indiana Courier-Times where Donna Cronk is Neighbors Editor as well as editor of the quarterly her magazine for women.