Holiday Memories is a month long series of heartwarming holiday stories from authors all over the world. We at As the Pages Turn hope you will enjoy and have a happy holiday full of good and happy memories!
Never Refuse a Gift
by Cindy Vallar
My grandmother sometimes gave my sisters and me gifts that she made. One Christmas, she gave me a black, cloth shoulder bag with crewel-worked flowers on it. This was not a purse a girl in her teens who wanted to fit in would ever use in public, but my parents told me I had to politely accept the gift and thank Grandma for it. This advice eventually came back to haunt them.
During my sophomore year of high school, my cocker spaniel contracted leukemia and died. It was a painful time for me, so my three younger sisters decided to cheer me up with a special Christmas present. With the help of some of my classmates, who were old enough to drive, they went to the local animal shelter and bought a black puppy with a white neck and belly. They kept him at a neighbor’s house until the afternoon of Christmas Eve. While my parents were next door at a party, they brought the dog into the house and hid him in one of my sisters’ bedrooms. (Unbeknownst to them, Mom actually saw them walking with the dog on the way to our house, but thought the puppy belonged to the friend who accompanied my sisters.)
During the night, my dad heard rustling coming from Bev’s bedroom. He thought she must have snuck down to the living room to get one of her presents from underneath the Christmas tree and was now unwrapping it. Rather than confront her, Dad went back to sleep.
When my sisters and I woke early on Christmas morning, we roused my parents and went down to the living room together to open our packages as usual. My youngest sister, Jenn, wore glasses just like me, so halfway through the unwrapping of presents, she said she had “forgotten” her glasses and went to retrieve them. When she returned, she carried Mom’s picnic basket tied with a large red bow. Peeking his head over the rim of the basket was the puppy. Jenn brought the basket over to where I sat and said, “Merry Christmas, Cindy!” Before my parents could react, I said with a smile, “I guess I can keep him since I can’t refuse a gift. Right, Mom and Dad?”
Tally and I became fast friends and, for the next fourteen years, we enjoyed many adventures together.