g l parker

Book One

Memories, the gift that keeps giving...

Christmas that same year was not looking any better than it was last year when the children had the measles. Again there was not any talk of a Christmas meal with all the trimmings, and not any talk of Santa and a wish list of toys the children hoped he would be bringing. It had been a long haul from the Currier and Ives Christmas Sadie and Luigi anticipated for their children in Danbury not so long ago.

Louis, Marie, Anna, and even little Regina understood their situation, but still they envied the other kids on the block who had Christmas trees, doors, and windows donned with decorations in celebration of the holiday.

Just prior to Christmas, while playing out on the streets, Anna noticed a tree laying in the gutter. It was a sorry looking old thing, but it was a Christmas tree of sorts, so she picked it up and took it home. The little ones loved it, too.

Sadie was not even sure it was a tree or if she wanted the pathetic thing in the house, but the children won her over and the little tree stayed.

The children were happy with their tree, and at the same time a little bit disappointed they did not have anything to hang on it. Nevertheless, it made no matter to them and they loved it just standing there bare on the kitchen table.

Sadie thought about the tree’s lack of decorative attire for a moment and came up with an idea on how to solve the tree’s problems, and her children’s minuscule disappointment with it as well.

The Graphic Paper Company was just a few blocks away from Sadie’s, and the trimmings off the sheets of paper cut throughout the factory’s day of operation, were put out each night for the garbage collectors. She sent the children out to pick some of the pink, green, and white cuttings from out of the wooden trash barrels and bring them home. They asked her why, but she did not let on to them what it was she was planning in her head.

When Louis, Marie, Anna, and Regina returned to their cold flat from their Christmas scavenger hunt, Sadie mixed a glue of flour and water. She took the scissors out of her sewing box and began cutting the pieces of paper into smaller strips.

At first, the children did not catch on to her scheme and wondered what she was doing. Sadie took a long narrow strip of paper and folded it and made it into a loop and fastened the two ends with the flour glue. The children, finally, got the idea of her scheme when she placed the second and third loop together and formed a chain.

Their eyes lit up, and they all sat beside her at the kitchen table cutting and pasting, and as they cut and pasted, they sang and laughed, and together they made a chain of colorful garland to adorn their woeful and sorrowful tree.

Sadie made a star using all three shades of the paper and placed it on the top of the tree. Then, all five of them stood back and viewed this object of festive beauty they created with their own hands.

Low and behold, it was the most beautiful tree they ever saw, and just the presence of its beauty warmed their cold tenement flat and the very depths of their hearts.

Sadie scraped together some change and gave it to Louis, and sent him and Marie to the store. Anna and Regina tagged along with them for the adventure.

They walked to Woolworth’s on 42nd Street and picked through the treasure trove of penny and five- to ten-cent delights.

When they got home, they wrapped the trinkets in the pieces of scrap paper left over from their garland project and placed them under their beautiful tree.

On that Christmas morning, just the look of sheer joy on Ralph’s little face; as he sat on the floor playing with his wooden miniature cars, trucks, and animals, was more than enough Christmas for all of them.