The Japanese had just bombed Pearl Harbor and President Roosevelt had spoken to us on the radio about going to war and I wondered what my Mother and Grandmother meant when they said my Father would probably go, which he did. My parents had been divorced since I was a baby and I really didn’t understand why my Dad lived in another place.

Mom was a registered nurse, but she had to stay at home with my Grandmother, who was bedfast. Our only income consisted of a monthly check of $78 which Mom said was sent by the president. Most of that money went to the landlord and utilities, so I’m sure Mom didn’t have much to spend on Christmas. I had hoped that Santa would come and, sure enough, there was a gift on that Christmas morning.

The first thing I saw as the gift was revealed was the picture of a smiling man in a funny looking hat. It was the Quaker Oats man. The container had a rubber ball inside that wobbled when I rolled it across the floor. I could also take the ball out and throw it against a wall and try to catch it. It is the first gift I remember.

Last week I was shopping and noticed a box of Quaker Oats. I had to walk away because other people would not understand if they saw the tears welling up in my eyes.

The reason I’ll never forget that gift is it was given to me in the true spirit of Christmas, which is “LOVE.”

Merry Christmas to everyone.

Gene Ragsdale


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