December 14, 2020

Shortly after Christmas when I was 9 years old, my grandmother (Gram) did something amazing. She opened a Christmas Club account at the local bank for me, with $1.00 to start.  Every other week, like clockwork, she’d show me the passbook for my account, with an additional $0.50 added to the account. She explained that the money would be mine to spend on gifts from me to our family. In the ensuing months, she and I would talk about the growing balance and what I might be able to purchase for everyone on my list. It added up, and by the following December that account had a grand total of $14.00, which was a fortune to me. 

We went together to the bank, and while she went to the teller to close out the account, she gave me a penny for the gum ball machine. And then, she handed me and envelope with the money. I couldn’t wait for Saturday to come, so that I could take the bus to Pittsburgh (on my own dime) to do my Christmas shopping.  I don’t remember everything I bought, but I do recall getting seamless stockings for my grandmother and mother, lipstick and nail polish for my sisters, and aftershave for my father. Before boarding the bus home, I splurged on some green foil wrapping paper, and treated myself to a Coke at the soda fountain near the bus stop.

As soon as I got home, I wrapped the gifts, and although it was still two weeks until Christmas, I set up one of our TV trays and arranged the presents on it, along with a “Do Not Open Until Christmas” sign in case anyone was tempted to cheat. I was so excited that I even took a photo of the pile of gifts. The pleasure of having “my own money” to buy Christmas gifts, and the anticipation of having those presents opened on Christmas morning was only outdone by my families very dramatic exclamations of surprise and thanks on Christmas morning.

In hindsight, in her humble and quiet way, Gram gave me the bigger gift, the gift of learning the joy of giving. She understood the truth of the Biblical adage, “It is more blessed to give than to receive.”

May we experience such joy this season ~ Anne

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