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A Quarterly Journal
Jeffrey Woodward, Founder & Owner
Ray Rasmussen, General Editor

Volume 11, Number 4, December 2017
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Janet Lynn Davis
Grimes County, Texas, USA


The Art of Gift Giving

For so long, it seemed, when our monetary wealth consisted of no more than a few coins, the Christmas presents we gave our parents were handcrafted. Such as the repurposed plastic face cream jar decorated with a broken string of costume pearls—brainchild of my kindergarten teacher. The macaroni wreath I spray-painted green and gold according to another teacher's instructions. And the wreath my brother patiently fashioned from a plain wire hanger and dozens of red-and-white peppermint candies.

the mistletoe ball
he made as a child
. . . then the way
he always resisted
his mother's kisses

Later, they took to telling us exactly what to give them. More than once from me: a dollar-size bottle of green Williams Lectric Shave for my father and, for my mother, Jergens "extra dry skin formula" lotion. Secretly, I longed for the day of impracticality, of fancy gifts, things fragile and unneeded.

Eventually, that wondrous day arrived. On an early-December expedition to a popular shopping center, our parents dropped us off at a department store where they allowed us, for a short time, to roam around on our own.

Suddenly, there it was—angel bells ringing—prominently displayed on a table. Made of glass, the sort of present I had hoped to find. And miraculously, according to a sign, the price was just five dollars. My brother, a nonshopper to this day, immediately went along with my idea. Heaven knows how he was able to carry such a hefty box all the way to the car and how we managed to disguise it as well as find a sheet of wrapping paper at home that was large enough to fit around it. But in any case, when our mother and father opened the package that Christmas day, to my barely 10-year-old eyes they looked surprised.

their punchbowl set
neatly stowed away
in a closet . . .
those festive parties
we hoped they would have


Author's Note: That punchbowl set is now packed away in my own house.

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