My brother and I were alone together in a grocery store at the Ala Moana shopping center in Honolulu. My parents were elsewhere, no doubt procuring Christmas gifts hence my brother and I being trusted alone.
My father liked nuts. And there, stacked in a high heap, were bags and bags of walnuts. I can’t remember for sure, but I think they were 88 cents which seems high for 1969. Then again it was Honolulu and walnuts were not, I don’t think, indigenous.
I whipped out my money, plunked it down and walked out with a gift I was sure would delight my father. I was sure that newspapers across the land would herald the story of the good daughter who bought the most fabulous gift of all time for her father. Walnuts. From a grocery store. In a shopping center.
Now my brother was the youngest and a whiny brat. I was the oldest and a bossy brat. I all but beat the need for secrecy into him. And I wouldn’t have hesitated to do so.
So we all get home and I’m prattling on and on about the fabulous gift I have procured for my father. I have even wrapped it and put it under the tree. My father, a character, is teasing both my brother and I unmercifully. Even at a young age, I knew Christmas presents were for Christmas. I never wanted mine early. The surprise and delight were the best part and delaying that just added to the joy.
But my dad starting working on Little Bro. And to my brother’s credit, he held under hours of barrage of Daddy asking for just a hint. He finally cracked (pun intended) and said, “All I can say is they go crunch.”
And the heavens rained down wrath and sorrow.
I sobbed. I shrieked. I wanted to kill my brother. Really, what else would go crunch besides nuts. He might as well said, “Father, my sister procured walnuts for your holiday gift.” The surprise was ruined. Ruined.
I was bereft.
My father wrapped me in his arms and cooed that he had no idea what the gift was. He assured me. I wasn’t buying it. Between sobs, I plotted my brother’s demise.
Of course, it all turned out fine. Of course, my father was shocked and delighted at the great surprise of walnuts. And to this day, we say, “All I can say is it goes crunch.”
I don’t need more ornaments and I’m limiting new acquisitions to the truly special. This year I was enticed by a vintage style Kurt Adler walnut. When it arrived, I remarked to the cat that it didn’t look much like a walnut, but the memories surfaced nonetheless. And that’s the point of everything on my tree – memories and stories and the weft and weave of my life.
At my age, Christmas is more about memories than presents although I still strive to find presents that will knock their socks off. I hope your Christmas finds you wrapped in lovely memories of all the people you have loved and do love.