Grandma and Grandpa loved their first and only grandchild, but until Helen left Bob and moved back to town and took a job as the Assistant County Librarian, they didn't see him often. They had seen Bob only once in his six years on this earth.

Now, Helen wanted her mom and dad to baby-sit Bob during the day without pay. “It should be an honor for you to get to be with your grandson this much,” she said to her parents.

Sue and Doug Burke had been through some rough times and they still had their medical bills. They'd had to file bankruptcy because they could get no help from their children and now they lived in a small cottage behind Mister Jamison’s. In return for their house and utilities, Sue and Doug became the caretakers, Sue cleaning and washing while Doug on his peg leg did the yard work. Their only income was Doug’s Social Security, half of which went to pay off his medical bills and a few dollars they realized from their garden.

It was the second week of November that Doug said to his wife: “What are we going to give Bob for Christmas? We don’t have any money, what do we give him?”

Sue looked at her husband and finally she spoke. "I am going to knit him a scarf with some Disney characters on it, and I suggest you make him a small tool box like the old wooden one of your dad's that you use.

“Oh good idea, Love. I have some boards that I pulled off that old chicken coop. They will make a fine tool box, and if I have time I can carve some little critters into the box.” Doug kissed his wife, “Thanks Mother, you always come through.”

Having no car, Sue and Doug walked everywhere they went. Both found it was good for them and they enjoyed it. So on Saturdays they would walk to the Piggly Wiggly on the other end of town. If they were going to get much, they would pull the little red wagon. If not, Sue would carry a large wicker basket.

They walked to church on Sunday and one night a week they went to the Senior Citizens center to play Bingo. One night they went to the library and read the papers, and checked out books. They thought life was good. Since they had no telephone Helen would run by when she wanted her mother to take care of Bob at night, or on the weekend. Helen was living in the little town of Veteran but trying to live like she was still a LA girl.

For a Christmas tree, Doug took the extra limbs Mister Jamison had cut off his tree and made a tree of his own. He took an old lamp, put a green bulb in it, took the shade off, then took wire and made a tree around the lamp. It was only about two feet tall but they thought it very appropriate and Bob loved it.

“Mother, will you keep Bob for me? Harry Morse has invited me to go to Aspen with him over Christmas. We will leave on the 22nd and return on the 29th. Since there are parties every night, I will be staying with Harry. I will pick Bob up on the second or third,” she said as if she were telling her live-in nanny.

“But what about Christmas? Don’t you want to be with your son on Christmas?” Sue asked her daughter. She shook her head. “You are still technically a married woman and you are traveling and living with a married man whose wife is in a retirement home.” Sue did not like her daughter’s life style.

“Mother, goodness gracious. This is the twenty first Century. I am sure Luther has his live-in girl friend, and as soon as the divorce is final, makes no difference to either of us.”

“What about Bob’s Christmas, his presents?” Doug asked.

“Oh Dad, Luther should send him some. Besides, I don’t have money to buy him stuff.” Helen turned and left.

Doug made the little tool box, then carved some Disney characters into the sides and ends. He sanded it very smooth and varnished it. It was a nice little tool box.

Sue finished the scarf and when Bob came, he was fascinated with their home made tree. Not seeing any presents did not seem to bother him. Of course the walks to the store, the library and the Seniors Center, were great outings for the small boy who thought people rode in a car if they went further than across the street.

At fist Bob was crass and terse, but within a day he found being nice and being polite garnered him lots of attention. “Grandma, Granddad, I like living with you. You are always around. You don’t holler at me, and you never make me go to my room. I like being with you,” he said.

Both Sue and Doug’s eyes were quite moist and the little boy did not see the small saline tears rolls down their cheeks.

Each day Doug would check Helen’s mail and the post office, but no package. No Christmas arrived. He even checked UPS and FEDEX, but there but nothing. No box for Bob arrived.

Doug went around to the two flea markets and talked to some people and got a few old tools: three screwdrivers, a pair of pliers, a hammer, and a crescent wrench. He polished them and put them in Bob’s box.

On Christmas morning Bob was up early. He ran into the living room and stopped. He didn't know what to think as there were only four presents beside the little tree. Two had his name on them. One for Grandma, and one for Grandpa. “Wake up Grandma, wake up Grandpa. There are presents by the little tree. We all got a present,” he said with glee.

Doug got up and made the coffee, and Sue got up and started breakfast. “Bob son, would you like Waffles for breakfast?” Sue asked her grandson.

“Grandma let's open the presents, let's open presents,” Bob replied.

“Bob, the tradition in our house has always been that we have waffles for breakfast. Then after breakfast we open our present, er presents,” Doug said.

“Do we have strawberries for our waffles?” Doug added.

“And whipped cream. White stuff,” Sue added.

They ate slowly, talking and savoring the strawberries and Grandma’s waffles.

Finally they finished and the adults took a cup of coffee, and they went into the front room.

Bob handed Sue and the Doug their present, and then he sat down and looked at his two. “Which shall I open first?” he asked.

“Oh, I would open the smaller package,” Doug said.

“No, I would open the larger one first,” Sue said.

Bob had the small one in his hands and when he opened it he let out a big, “Wowie!” He slowly looked at each character, then he jumped up, put the scarf on, wrapped it around his small neck. He hugged Grandma’s neck and thanked her. Then he showed Grandpa.

Doug opened his box and his present was a new pair of knit wool glovers, whereas Sue received a box of her favorite bath powder. “Poppie you should not have done this, this is too much,” she said as she sat on his lap and they hugged and kissed. “What about the other one,” Sue said to Bob.

Bob dropped down on his knees and opened his tool box. “Oh Grandpa, Grandpa it is just like yours. Oh thank you, and I even have tools. I can help you now Grandpa.” He hugged Doug’s neck.

Sue took the wrapping paper, removed the ribbons and bows and carefully folded the paper for next year. After lunch they walked to the Senior’s center for caroling and a get together.

As darkness fell and it was Bob’s bedtime. “Grandma, Grandpa, this was the bestest Christmas I have ever had. I got presents that were made for me by the ones who love me.

 

© By Tom (tomWYO@aol.com)

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