My parents were close to their families. For several years my paternal grandmother lived in a specially built little house behind our house. I thought that was cool. My relatives on Dad’s side of the family visited us often throughout the year, but on Christmas we went to their homes to see what they got from Santa.
One of my older male cousins always seemed to get underwear. He appeared excited and thankful for his presents and always showed us each garment up close. As I grew older I tried to be in a different room when the undies were displayed.
Our mom had two brothers who lived in Indianapolis, and we also stopped at their homes on Christmas. Mom’s parents always had a family gathering on Christmas Eve, when lots of presents were exchanged and much food was consumed.
Mom’s younger brother, Calvin, and his family lived in Wanamaker. He once told us a story about stopping to get his family some White Castles while heading home one evening. The aroma got the best of him, and he had to have one or two or three. ... Upon arriving home he discovered that only three sliders remained. He knew that would not satisfy his wife and three children, so he finished the remaining sliders while sitting in the car.
Mom had a brother who resided out of the state, and Dad had a brother who lived in Rushville and a sister who at that time lived in Okinawa, Japan. Presents from our out-of-state relatives arrived in the mail, and I didn’t like this because I was in school when the mail was delivered. The knowledge of presents in the house always made the days before Christmas seem longer.
Since my sister was not old enough to attend school, she probably witnessed the delivery of those packages and watched as they were stored in a secluded location until it was time to open them.
One afternoon when I was playing basketball with my buddies, Mom came running outside and was upset because she couldn’t find my sister. We looked everywhere to no avail and were getting a bit worried. I don’t recall why, but I opened the closet door in my bedroom. There she was, sitting on the floor amid many unwrapped Christmas presents. The closet was dark when the door was closed, so she was seeing the presents for the first time when I opened the door.
I yelled that I had found her. By the my parents came flying into the room, my sister had placed her famous “I’m so sorry; please don’t be mad at me” expression on her face. It never failed her; 5-year-old girls get away with all kinds of stuff. But at least we got to enjoy a several presents a few days early that year.
My wife, Lyn, Stuart, our therapy dog, and I hope everyone has a merry Christmas.
Shonk is a 1960 graduate of Southport High School, a ’63 grad of Indiana Central College (now the University of Indianapolis) and a retired bus driver from Beech Grove Schools.