I’m on vacation. This is a guest post from my aunt. It’s sort of a real-life “Gift of the Magi”. My aunt and uncle (who is called “Pop” in this story) celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary this past October.

On Christmas Eve 1958, I had been married two months and seven days. 

We were sixteen and eighteen — young but in love.  Pop had a good job in a mobile home factory. The pay was $2.10 per hour. They gave him a week off for our honeymoon. On Monday morning, ten days after we were married, he went back to work, worked three days and was laid off for the winter. 

We had no groceries in the house because we were waiting for payday, so the first thing we did was go shopping.  The cupboards were bare, so we needed everything.  The total bill came to $28. That included flour, sugar, butter, bread, lunch meat, and all the spices, plus whatever else one needs to stock a cupboard.

Through the fall and early winter Pop worked at odd jobs for his dad, who was self-employed buying wool, cow and deer hides, cascara bark, beaver pelts and other furs.  Pop and a friend also cut wood for my dad.  Dad paid them $6.00 a cord, and by splitting it two ways they each got $3.00 per cord. We stayed with my folks about five or six weeks during the time he was working for Dad.

Eventually, we went back home and Pop started working for his brother, who was a trapper.  Pop’s job was to skin the beaver and stretch it tight on a board, in a circle (like a woman would a doily), and hold it with nails around the outside of the circle so it would keep its shape.  When the pelt was dried it was in a stiff circle. Pop was paid $3.00 per pelt when it was done.

The day before Christmas — December 24, 1958 — Pop went to work. We were broke as usual. It was Christmastime, but we had no money for gifts. It was our first Christmas.  I don’t remember what time he left for work, but he completed two pelts making $6.00.  

Rushing, he managed to get home by 4:15. The stores closed at 5:00 on Christmas Eve. By the time we got to town it was 4:30. He gave me $3.00 and he took $3.00, and we went shopping. I bought him a pretty shirt. He bought me a beautiful lamp that hung on the wall.

So was our first Christmas. We were young and in love. We had each other, and who needed fancy gifts?

Merry Christmas, everyone. Guest posts will continue on Friday, and J.D. will be back full-time in 2009.

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