Christmas Memory
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One of Jack's favorite stories is about a cherished Christmas present.

 

My Favorite Christmas Memory

by Jack Alexander

The day before Christmas in 1932 my childhood dream came true. That day I trudged along the snow-edged brick sidewalks of my quaint town. I was nearly lost in the crowd of scurrying people, their faces hidden with festive packages. No ten-year-old boy could have been more excited. Crossing street after street with five dollars jammed deep in my pocket my heart raced and my breath rose in curling plumps of white vapor into the cold winter air. The smell of freshly cut evergreen trees leaning in a row against a sagging rope rushed to greet me. The blaring horns and the distant sound of a tambourine rode the holiday air to my red-tipped ears.

Finally reaching my destination I stole a glance in the store window. The large hand painted sign was still there. PUPPIES FOR SALE $5.00. I stepped on the worn stone sill and opened the heavy door to the shop. My footsteps resounded as I walked on the creaking wooden floor to the back of the store. I gazed at the five, white, fluffy puppies. I swayed back and forth from one foot to the other a major decision confronted me. What if I picked the wrong dog? Understanding my predicament, the kind old owner of the shop, likely remembering his own childhood told me to take as much time as I needed. His friendly suggestion only magnified my problem. In a barely audible voice I said to myself, "I must choose!" Suddenly I blurted that I wanted the little puppy sleeping in the corner. The shopkeeper said that I had made a very good and wise choice. Thinking about this today, I'm sure that he would have said the same thing no matter which animal I had chosen.

My hand, damp with perspiration, went deep into my coat pocket pulling out the precious one-dollar bills. The elderly man held the money in his hand momentarily before stuffing them into the cash drawer under the wooden counter. He lifted his faded eyes to meet mine, then asked if I had a collar and a leash? This unforeseen problem stunned me! Silence filled the room. Finally the clanging bell of a passing trolley broke the spell. Rubbing his head slowly in a circular fashion, the man said he would include a tiny collar at no additional expense and offered an old leash that a customer had left long ago. Years later I wished to thank him for his kindness but when I thought to do so, I found the store and the kind aged man were no longer there.

With trembling hands I put the little pup under my coat and closed the door behind me. The biting winter wind pushed at my face during the long uphill walk to my home. The warm little body next to mine made me hurry my step. My legs ached and my lungs hurt from the frigid air as finally my house came into sight. I then flew, my feet barely touching the ground. The long string of brass bells clanged and banged against my front door as I pushed it open. I ran to the kitchen to show my mother the wiggling shivering puppy. Expecting me, my mother had warmed a towel in the oven of the coal stove. The puppy curled up in the warmth of her thoughtfulness. I was anxious to play with her but after the ordeal of her trip home, all she cared to do was sleep

I was twenty-one when Patsy passed away. We were friends a very long time. I missed her so much! We had been through a great deal together. Many, many times I was glad that I had decided to choose that little ball of white fur sleeping over in the corner.