Christmas Eve, 2013, the family is gathered in the great room experiencing the yearly gift-giving tradition. Naser, my treasured husband, our daughter, Sha and her husband Peter, along with Matriarch Lois Marion are all in attendance. We have enjoyed a lovely meal with the beautiful Christmas red chargers for each china service at the huge table in the house on the lake. Our hunger has been satiated; it’s time to move respective belt fastenings to the next larger notch to allow for the usual gluttony and we retire to the great room for the big event of the annual gift exchange.
Our son, Bobby and his family, Elizabeth, Justin Lee and Anna Marie have celebrated our Christmas with us at our home the weekend before since they could not be present at Grandmother’s house. Since our children were born, Christmas Eve is ALWAYS celebrated at Grandmother’s.
It is our tradition each family member opens the various presents alone while all other family members look on to enjoy the surprises together. It is the duty of the youngest member of the gathering to play ‘Santa’ and to hand out all the gifts from under the tree. Again, Sha takes the honor as she also opens first as the youngest member, followed by each successive member by virtue of their age, the oldest being last.
The time has come for me to open my MANY gifts gathered near me and I excitedly begin to unwrap the treasures. My daughter Sha and her husband are ALWAYS very generous both with their money and their time to her Mama, Daddy and Grandmother. She waits with baited breath to see how I will open the very special gift marked “FRAGILE.” She loves to surprise me and now as an adult has become my very best friend, something that I thought would NEVER happen to our relationship when she was a teenager. (Many of my readers might be able to relate to my sentiment if you have raised a teenager at all!)
The next part of my special story requires ‘a walk back in time’ to explain certain circumstance before sharing further. I sincerely beg the reader’s indulgence
I have very few memories of him but there is one in particular that has always touched me deeply. It is of him walking down a dirt road with me as a very young toddler sitting on his shoulder. He suffered greatly with varicose veins and surely walks must have caused him pain, however, he proudly carried me and ‘treated me’ just the same. Apparently I had lots of blond curls in those days and by all accounts was a precocious child and am told was very friendly as well. Family members have told me he dearly loved to share me with the residents. (I can definitely relate to the pride as a Grandparent!)
In those days in the little community of Mason City, there was a country school in which my father, his sister Maude and his little sister, Juanita attended their entire school careers. The only other community building there was a little house on the main road. This little community store was a very small store offering some ‘convenient’ goods and served as a meeting place for some of the residents during the year.
This little store is the locale for my ‘special memory.’
In those olden days, small country stores had not only the convenient goods but also offered a limited variety of sweets and snacks. One such vendor was Tom’s Toasted Peanuts. Many of my generation probably remember those lovely glass jars with the glass lid, topped with a red knob. The peanuts were sold in small packages for all of five cents at the time. Many a youngster of my generation begged their parents to purchase those little packages of peanuts just the same as I did, I’m sure.
The glass jars in this little store, however, were not only to hold the little packages of peanuts. They also held beautiful very large oatmeal cookies with a hard white icing as a topping. The special cookies of my youth however, were the pink iced oatmeal cookies.
It is the special memory of my grandfather, William Henry that I share today; the sweet memory of a loving grandfather trekking down the dirt road with a toddler on his shoulder and allowing her the special treat of picking out her very own special pink iced oatmeal cookie from the Tom’s glass jar. What a wondrous experience!
The reason this memory is so special to me is that at the age of 2 ½ years of age, my very special and beloved Granddaddy passed away, leaving me with very, very few memories. Hence my private memories of those trips on his shoulders to the community store and the Tom’s Peanut glass jar have always held much reverence for me as they truly are the ONLY memories of him. Each time I have seen an antique glass jar with the bright red ‘Tom’s printed on the side it yet again brings back that special memory. Over the years I have mentioned it would be nice to own my very own but never really got around to finding one of my own.
I thank the reader for indulgence in my explanations and at last we arrive back in 2013, Christmas Eve and the gift exchange tradition…
I am excitedly removing the wrapping of the large gift from my daughter Sha marked “FRAGILE” and notice she is sitting on the edge of her seat…
As I remove the lovely paper and open the box, I spy a red knob and as I continue unwrapping the multitude of shrink wrap and tissue paper I realize this beautiful gift of love from my daughter and my son-in-law is something I have dreamed of my whole life…something that has always brought a sweet memory to my heart of my lost Granddaddy William Henry. Now my beautiful daughter has researched and purchased an original Tom’s glass jar to call my very own!
My heart swelled with pride and my tears fell like rain when I realized what she had done! I’m sure my mother, Lois Marion remembered the special memory I shared with her over the years and knew what I was feeling at that moment. My tears fell for several minutes and my mind went back to a simpler place and time with my beloved Grandfather William Henry. Those tears were tears of joy!
I am very proud to say this Tom’s cookie jar will now reside on my kitchen counter to hold whatever I want to place within but each time I gaze at it, my mind travels back to that special time with someone I truly loved and I have my beautiful baby girl to thank for the honor!
Thank you from the bottom of my heart, Sha and Peter…