Sophie Says: Christmas Giving

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Gramps Says I’m old enough to remember back a few years and one memory that sticks in my mind dates back to when I was a boy of not more than six or seven years of age. During World War II there were many households where the men were off to war. On Christmas Eve my father arrived at our front door driving a Garrett Freight Lines truck and trailer. He showed me many gift packages loaded in the trailer, which I was informed we were going to deliver. I still recall the tears of thankful mothers and the excitement of the little children as they opened the door and received those precious gifts. Even at that age I felt that we got an extra ordinary amount of credit for something that had involved a lot of other people. Father was drafted but got a deferment from active service because of the chronic illness of my mother. However, he was required to work in a defense related job. He switched to driving tanker trucks and delivered fuel to Hill Air Force Base. He must have made a few friends at the air base as I recall on at least two occasions a huge bomber buzzed our house with all four engines roaring. In those days, no one complained about the antics Air Force pilots. There was rationing and money was scarce, nevertheless, my father always provided something to open on Christmas morning. My most memorable gift arrived Christmas 1944 when I was eight years of age. I awoke well before dawn and couldn’t stand the excitement of anticipation so I tip toed down the hallway and peeked through the living room door. There, to my astonishment, was a gift beyond every expectation. A bicycle. I did a credible job of acting surprised when the time came. Usually bikes in those times had fat tires, but this bike had thin tires so I always described it to my friends as a racing bike. I couldn’t reach the pedals so father removed the seat and wrapped a pant leg around the cross bar. On my solo ride I made it up the inclined road to 18th East but on attempting a U-turn I managed to drive into a large flagstone lined irrigation ditch. It hurt bad, but I said to myself, “If I’m big enough for a bike, I’m too big to cry,” and I held it in. That was a durable bicycle which I rode to deliver the Deseret News when I was 12 and 13 years of age. The year that I received the bicycle was the best Christmas ever and it was the last with my mother. She left us and went to meet her brother who didn’t make it back from Iwo Jima. Their final journey to that reunion took place within a week of each other in May of 1945. Sophie Says My enthusiastic welcoming and tail wags bring a lot of smiles, perhaps that is a form of giving. The skill at which I excel and enjoy most is opening gifts. That means everybody’s gifts. I do get a little carried away and am chastised for being overzealous. However, I am always quiet and respectful on Christmas Eve during the family tradition of reading the Christmas Story in Matthew, Mark and Luke.]]>

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