“Jen, what we gonna get Gran for chrissus?” little Yaz asked his sister as they were
shoveling snow. “ I would like to get Gran a nice present, but we ain’t got no money.”
Yaz stopped to look at the path he had made from the front steps to the side walk. “Jen,
why you reckon mom and dad ran off and left us for Gran to raise?”
The skinny little girl with the red stringy hair and a hole in both of her handknit
mittens glared at her little brother. “Yaz, stop it! Stop it right this minute or I will
push you in the snow bank and leave you to freeze.” She shook her head and stood akimbo.
“Yaz Craxton, you are going to grow up to be a politician, a natural born politician for I
have never seen one boy ask as many questions as you.” She had been thinking the same
things. “Let's hurry up and finish for Gran is making tater soup for supper and she
bought a brand new box of saltines the other day at the Kroger store.”
That night when they went to bed they did not immediately go to sleep for they were
talking, well whispering about different things they could do to make money. They decided
to pick up cans and Yaz said that Billy Whitlock had said that some of the plastic soda
bottles were worth a nickel or dime.
It was the Monday after Thanksgiving and in two weeks they had picked up a dollar-thirty
worth of cans. It had not snowed so they could not shovel sidewalks and no one wanted to
pay them to walk their dogs. Jen did help Mrs. Hagglemeyer clean house and worked all one
Saturday and received two dollars. Yaz tried running errands but he could not carry the
heavy bags for they were just too heavy for him. So he took his old red wagon that was a
hand-me-down from someone and painted a little sign “Let me help you” on it, but he did
haul some magazines to the recycle place for which he got fifty cents.
It was the 20th of December and they had earned $9.83 so they went to see what they could
buy for Gran at the Variety Store. They looked and looked and then they saw Aunt Connie
Sue, a black lady who cleaned for women in the neighborhood. When she took her money out
of her pocket to pay for her purchases Yaz spotted some green drop. As soon as Aunt
Connie Sue left, Yaz picked up the money and put it in his pocket and told Jen, “Come,
come Jen, I have something to show you. We are rich, we are really rich!”
They went outside and back into the alley and Yaz pulled the green from his pocket and
showed Jen who grabbed it and unfolded it. “Oh, wowie! We are rich, oh boy we can buy
Gran a grand present now.” Both stared at the fifty dollar bill.
They jumped up and down with glee as their prayers had been answered. Then Jen looked at
Yaz. “We did not earn this and I bet Aunt Connie Sue needs this money, Yaz. This is a lot
of money,” she said and her glee turned to a frown.
“Gran says it is a sin to steal,” Yaz said, “But I found it. Found it on the floor there
in the store.”
Jen looked at her brother, “I think we should give it back, for we can buy Gran something
with what we have and it would be like stealing since we know who the money belongs to.”
The two ran over to the south side where Aunt Connie Sue lived and knocked on the door of
the small house. “Why hello there,” Aunt Connie Sue said as she opened the door. Both
children could tell she had been crying. “What can Aunt Connie sue do for you? Hope
nothing is wrong with Mrs. Murphy, for your grandmother is one fine lady. She is, yes
siree she really is.”
Yaz raised his hand with the fifty dollar bill in it. “You dropped this in the store.”
The old woman bent over and hugged Yaz. “Oh thank you, I knew I had it but when I got home
I didn’t, and that is my rent money. Old man Dobson don’t let a person live here unless
they pay their rent. You two come in and let me give you one of my special chocolate chip
cookies. Lordy, lordy now I can pay my rent,” she said as she wiped her eyes.
Jen looked at the old lady. “Gran says it is a sin to steal and since we knew who the
money belonged to we would have been stealing. But boy I thought one of the little people
had made our dream come true.” Jen bit into her cookie.
“What were you going to do with the money?” Aunt Connie Sue asked.
Yaz piped up. We have been working and saving to buy Gran a chrissus present and so far
we have $9.83,” he said.
Aunt Connie Sue gave each of them thirty five cents each and hugged them both. “Now this
is for delivering this bag of clothes to Mrs. Delaney over on Sycamore. It is some sewing
I did for her.” She handed them a large brown paper bag.
They laughed and felt better as they delivered the bag and Mrs. Delaney gave them fifty
cents. “Wow, now we have $10.83," Yaz told Jen as they ran home to supper.
The next morning being Saturday Yaz loaded his wagon with old newspapers to take to the
recycle place. Three neighbors hailed him and asked him to take their magazines and
papers and he made a dollar.
As he was coming home Mr. Steiner at the meat market came out and spoke to Yaz. “Young
man, I understand you and your sister are looking for little projects. If your Gran says
it is OK, then you both come back with your wagon about quarter to five and my wife and I
have some deliveries for you to make.”
“Yes, sir! Yes siree. We would be glad to Mr. Steiner sir,” Yaz said with a big smile.
When they got home after delivering 27 small boxes, bags and packages to Mr. Steiner’s
customers both Jen and Yaz were tired. They went to bed. Sunday at church they were
asked to do four other jobs so they were busy all day. And by Monday after school they
had $38.18. On Tuesday they earned another $10.22, so they went to the Store and began to
look, whispering and looking.
“May I help you?” Mrs. Cavanaugh asked, “And may I ask for whom you are buying a present
so that I may help you and show you things they may like?”
Jen looked at Mrs. Cavanaugh. She had never liked her. “We are buying a present for Gran
and we have forty-eight dollars and forty cents.”
Yaz spoke up, “We want the best present we can buy for our Gran, because we have been
working to buy her a nice present.”
Mrs. Cavanaugh asked about perfume, powders and a dress, and they adamantly shook their
heads no. She smiled and moved over to the large center counter. “Does Gran have a nice
long robe to wear when it is cold and before bed?” She picked up a pretty blue down robe
and held it up.
“Oh no Maam, we only have forty-eight dollars,” Jen said. Mrs. Cavanaugh saw how big
their eyes got.
Yaz looked up at the older lady and screwed up his face, “How much is that pretty robe? I
know it is way more than what we have.”
Mrs. Cavanaugh looked at the tag. “It is ninety-nine, ninety-five, but there is a stain on
it. I bet the manager will mark it down because we cannot sell it with this stain on it.”
She pointed to the small stain on the bottom of the robe.”
Jen screwed up her face, “It still would not be within our price range, but oh Gran would
love it. I could put a small flower over that stain.”
“We will give you forty-eight dollars and forty cents, including tax,” Yaz said in a
deeper than normal tone of voice. “You agree, Sis?”
Mrs. Cavanaugh shook her head. I don’t think he will reduce it that much, but I will ask
him.” She went to the manager and they gestured and pointed and looked at the robe and
finally they shook their heads in unison. Mrs. Cavanaugh wrapped it for them and they ran
all the way home.
“Merry Christmas, Gran,” they said as they handed the older lady the fancy-wrapped box.
She dried her hands and took the box, tears streaming down her face. She hugged both of
them. “Oh you two are great. So great and I thank you, but I don’t have any nicely
wrapped presents for you. But let’s wait until Christmas day to open what we have, OK?”
Little did Jen and Yaz know that Aunt Connie Sue had spread the word around town about the
two honest children and about them trying to earn money to buy their grandmother a nice
present for they loved her so much. When they returned home after running errands and
doing small job for people they found a large pile of presents under their little
imitation fir tree. The town’s people had appreciated their efforts.
© By Tom (tomWYO@aol.com)