Christmas Gifts

December 1st, 2006
by Alfonso Ebanks

[private] v4-12-Our IslandsChristmas was only a few days away and I knew that this was going be a sad Christmas for us. My mother was a seamstress and the work during this time of year was plentiful, but money was scarce and many of the customers that brought work did not have the money to pay for the work when the job was done.

There were other seamstresses in town, and I guess my mother did not want to lose any of her regular customers, so she did most of her work on credit. Mama and I lived alone so she always told me her problems.

She told me that the little money she was able to collect, would have to be used to pay the rent. I knew that other kids would get nice toys and lots of good things to eat on Christmas day, but I had no such expectations. Two days before the big day, as I walked the bridge that led to the street, something in the water caught my eye. Upon taking a closer look, I saw that it was one of those new one lempira paper bills.

I wasted no time in fishing it out of the water. The bill must have been in the water for a few days, because it was sort of puffed up. I decided to use my mother’s pressing iron to dry the bill. While I pumped up and adjusted the generator of the gasoline iron, I was thinking of what I could buy with the money I had found. At first, I decided I would give it to my mother to help with the rent, but when I questioned her she told me she already had the rent money. I decided that I would use the money to buy my mother a pack of needles and some stitching thread.

I turned the money over to dry the other side. Upon applying the iron to the bill, to my surprise the bill parted down the middle. Right there before my eyes I had two one lempira bills. With these two monies I could buy something for myself and a gift for my mother. I finished drying the two pieces of the bill and went to my secret hiding spot to leave one piece there. I then proceeded straight away to spend the half of the bill with the Indian head on it.

I purchased some fire crackers and a few paradise plum candies. The candies were devoured right away and the fire crackers I would keep until Christmas day, so I could join the other kids in their noisy celebration of the holiday. I returned home to store my fire crackers and retrieve the other piece of my magic lempira from my secret hiding place.

Then off I went to buy my mother’s present. I was about half way to the store, when a strange thought entered my mind. I asked myself if what I was doing was wrong or sinful. Without waiting for an answer, I turned around because some how it had dawned on me that this was stealing.

I knew that I had to turn the other piece of the bill over to the store keeper and this would mean that I could not get a gift for my mother. Unless I would return the fire crackers and with that money I could buy the needles for mama. When I explained to the store keeper what I had done, he took the other piece of the bill from me and exchanged the firecrackers for a pack of needles.

When I left the store I was a little sad because of the loss of the noise makers, but I felt good inside about doing the right thing. At least my mama would get her gift. As I walked home I kept my eyes on the waters of the canals, with the hope that somewhere in there I would spot another paper lempira.

With my gaze fixed on the water, I was startled when some one stepped in front of me and identified himself as a cousin of my father. He told me that he had recently arrived from the USA. This person then proceeded to extract a green bill from his wallet and handed it to me. He then wished me a merry Christmas and went on his way. I clasped the bill in my fist, and ran all the way home, and only then would I look at the money. It was ten US dollars.

That was money enough to buy every thing I wanted. We would also be able to buy some apples, grapes, a fat hen, and the firewood with which to bake the chicken for our Christmas dinner. We had a merry Christmas after all. Here’s a belated “thank you” to Uncle Spicer, now 92 years old, for that most wonderful Christmas ever. [/private]

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