Susan Spess Shay

Still playing make believe.


Old Ford Christmas Story

Dad has a favorite story he tells nearly every Christmas. I’ve heard it twice this year, and love it! I hope he tells it another time or two before the season is over.

My dad grew up in Old Ford and he lives there today. (Nearly all his kids moved back to C-Town, and he packed up and moved away. LOL)

When he was in grade school one year during the depression, I believe he said third grade, they drew names for their Christmas party.

Dad said he drew a girl’s name, and he was not thrilled. The teacher told them they couldn’t spend more than a quarter on the present, but they needed to bring it to the class Christmas party.

So Grandmother gave him a quarter and sent him to Old Ford’s Mercantile. (This was back in the day when it was safe to send your eight year old to the store all alone.)

Now the Mercantile was an interesting place. If I remember right, he said the Mercantile was built around the bank. Imagine a huge store with one corner taken up with another business–the bank. There was an entrance on the south and one on the east (main street). One side had groceries and one side had hardware and housewares, etc.

So Dad looked and looked and looked, trying to decide what to give the little girl. A little girl didn’t play with a top or a yo-yo back then. What should he get her?

Finally, he decided on a vase. Yes, you read that right. A fifteen cent vase for an eight-year-old girl. I always laugh out loud when he gets to that part.

The Vase! (Thanks Sister Cindy.)

He usually talks about how this little girl was polite when she opened the present, but he didn’t remember any squeals of joy when she opened it.

Now fast forward thirty for forty years. He walks into Sister Cindy’s house one day, and on her shelf sits . . . The Vase. He couldn’t believe his eyes. How in the world did Cindy get it?

Looking back over the years, he always figured the little girl had thrown it away or at least broken it. (Or maybe taken it back and traded it for a doll.)

“Where did you get this?”

“Bruce’s mother gave it to me.” Cindy answered. “She got it–”

“In third grade at the class Christmas party,” Dad finished for her. “I gave it to her.”

“Really?” Cindy was surprised. “She thought Don Holmes gave it to her.”

That makes me laugh, too, although I’ve never known Mr. Holmes. (There’s another funny story there, but I’ll save it for another time.)

So you never really know how much your gift is going to mean to a person. Or if they’ll learn to like it more as the years go by.

Funny thing is, if I’d given that little boy advice, I would have suggested a necklace or music box. Never in a thousand years would I suggest a vase. But she probably would have a necklace after all these years.

And I wouldn’t get to tell share Dad’s story.