Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Don't Judge a Gift by Its Price, but by Aggravation

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Don't Judge a Gift by Its Price, but by Aggravation

Article excerpt

This past Thanksgiving, my grandchildren were discussing their Christmas wishes. Items like iPad, laptop, app and smart phone were sprinkled through the conversation.

"What was Christmas like when you were little, Grandma?" someone queried. The VCR of my mind rewound to the 1930s and '40s.

I don't remember asking for any specific gifts. I usually requested a doll -- the generic type. My Aunt Rose sewed clothing for them.

One Christmas in the 1940s was defined by the gift for my brothers Mike and Jack -- it was the year that Santa brought them BB guns. While I was helping my mom fix breakfast, they attempted to shoot all the ornaments off the tree. It was a particularly dry tree that year, and although my mother managed to stop them before all the balls were gone from the tree, she was unsuccessful in saving the needles.

A custom at the time was for relatives to visit during Christmas week and admire the tree. I remember our visitors were at a loss as to what to say about ours that year.

In the 1950s and '60s, when my four kids were young, name brand toys were just making an appearance. Daughter Marybeth wanted a Little Red Spinning Wheel in the first year I remember going from store to store in search of the popular toy. We finally did locate one.

Although the TV commercial showed that spinning wheel transforming yarn into all sorts of wonderful things, Marybeth never mastered anything other than a red, knitted circle of yarn that grew longer and longer. She knotted a 30-inch piece of it and proudly presented her father with his new necktie.

I remember him leaving the house for an important business meeting with that mass of yarn tied under the collar of his white shirt. He came home that night with glowing reports of how the tie had undoubtedly clinched his insurance sale that day. To this day, no one has ever asked him if he had a backup tie in the car.

Another year, son Michael asked for some sort of gun that shot out cannon balls. I found it in early November at an Associated Hardware in a local shopping center. …

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