More of Dave's
a Time - If Not a Reason
The Gift of a
Night to Remember
A Trip Down Chester's Memory Lane
Day evokes special remembrance
no running away from some memories
Positive News from Chester
Komarnicki Family Portrait
holiday that provided lessons for life
by David Komarnicki
At Christmastime in 1938, Pop's gift list was as long as his thumbnail. Expectations of gift exchange ran low in our household, but zest for life never peaked higher.
The afternoon before the big day, I mimicked my father's footsteps to the Salvation Army headquarters to pick out a free Christmas toy. My choice was a top that hummed while spinning. That was the year I first tagged along with my brood of brothers on Christmas Eve as they searched for a cut-rate price on a Christmas tree. I was mentored well as I watched them negotiate the exchange for a buck. I later helped to lay the tinsel and hang the fragile decorations on the tree, which we placed near the front window where all passing by could see it.
Even today my heart races when, in recollection, I watch sisters Mary and Vicky unwrap my dual gifts of
Evening in Paris toilet water that Christmas morning. The ceremonial untying of ribbon and peeling away of paper, the surprised look, the nostril-quivering aroma, all followed by tender hugs of thanks — the thrill lives with me still.
Pop waged in at $35 for a 72-hour work week, while Mom waged war at home, orchestrating her family of twelve at 151 E. Seventh St. Restless seizures kept me awake that night as I tossed in expectation of Santa's visit. Yes, I still believed. And, yes, he delivered the single request I whispered in his ear at Stotter's Department Store— a flexible flyer sled. But Santa delivered more than I expected. Three more gifts were stuffed in an argyle sock hung on an imaginary fireplace in our living room. So, squatting amidst the strewn wrappings on the floor, I pulled out the first one—a card with a Milky Way candy bar attached. On the card, in capital letters, it read:
"Enjoy life! It's a gift! Be the best you can be. Always think positive and you'll shine like this Christmas tree."
These were heavy thoughts for an 8-year-old. I lifted out the second gift slowly: a container the size of a Bulova watch box. Opening it, I found two clear marbles with a printed note attached. It read:
"May you be gifted to clearly see with the inner eye of faith, beyond the beauty of this tree, with visions of ETERNITY."
I'd need brother Joe to help me understand that one. The third gift was a giant, sock-stretching navel orange wrapped mid-section with a Scotch-taped message that read:
“Life's longitude and latitude is circumferenced best by an attitude of gratitude."
The three notes I placed under the rug for later vocabulary review. The Milky Way I promptly dispatched, fearing a forced sharing with brothers George, Paul or Jim. The orange I peeled, sectioned, and savored on the spot. The two pure marbles later inspired me, through endless practice, to attain championship status. Eventually, the notes, though not mentally discernable at the time, I memorized, along with my multiplication tables, at the Carnegie Library two blocks away.
Sixty-plus Christmas celebrations have been shouldered in my library of memory since that day. And if I could shine a laser through the prism of life's experiences, filtering them through those three admonitions stuffed into an argyle sock, I would see more clearly how positive a role they played in my life's journey. This Christmas I will pass them on to my daughters and my sons-in-law:
• Embrace life, this one-of-a-kind gift from God.
• Focus on eternity with the gifted eye of faith.
• Greet each day and all it contains with an attitude of gratitude.
After all, isn't this part of what God had in mind when He came among us that first Christmas? In the person of his son, Jesus the Christ (Emmanuel, God with us), He brought us the greatest gift of
© 2003 David Komarnicki, all rights reserved.