On December 23, 1913, my grandfather, Charlie, was born. He would be 101 years old. He passed away in June of 1998.
Aside from it being near his birthday and near to Christmas, I have been thinking of him lately. The odd weather here in St. Paul – it’s close to Christmas, and we do not have any snow left on the ground.
I have been mentally rolling around his adages, axioms and stories. Some of those bits of wisdom are from a time when language was more direct and less politically correct. The one story that is curious, is that of his tale of getting a pair of skis for his birthday + Christmas.
Looking back on this story, I seem to remember it having two different endings. The story usually came up in the context of my sister and I getting too many presents.
He would explain that his birthday would always get combined into Christmas, and he would only get one present. The pair of skis-as-a-gift would come up and then, depending upon his desired affect, the ending would be different. He would always go into the detail of sneaking into his mother’s closet to snoop on the gifts; he found a pair of skis with his name on them. The story always mentioned one key point: even though it was late December, in northern Minnesota, there was no snow on the ground.
At this point, some times, when trying to emphasis that it was a lot harder back-in-the-day, Christmas would arrive, and there continued to be no snow on the ground. Disappointed, he had wait and be patient; snow would eventually fall. The lesson being that you sometimes have been patient.
At other times, during the telling of the story, the ending would be more upbeat and downright more like the holiday episode of a sitcom: Christmas would arrive, and it had snowed early in the morning. He was able to use the skis.
Happy Birthday, Charlie.