Brian and I each had about a buck and change the year we were Christmas shopping for our parents. We tagged along with mother when she drove into town one Saturday a couple weeks before Christmas. Deciding the LeRoy Allied Hardware Store would be the best place to spend our hard earned cash, we warned mother not to come into the store while we were there. She grinned and said she wouldn't spoil our shopping spree.
I was fascinated with the big store that smelled of lemon polish, leather, paint and floor wax. The aisles of shelves were stacked with dishes, ornaments, tools, brushes, brooms, cleaning supplies, light fixtures, lamps, pictures, mirrors, farm supplies and so many 'things' that seemed overwhelming to a shy ten year old farm girl. Brian was in the hardware department and behind him, one of the managers of the store, Mr. Irwin, watched him a little too carefully. I seldom ventured into the store without mother or daddy because the grim-faced manager made me feel uncomfortable. But Brian, a year younger, didn't seem to notice or mind. I thought I should hurry and select something before Mr. Irwin turned his attention to me.
My winter boots squeaked on the hardwood flooring as I reached for a shiny clear beverage glass. It was twenty nine cents. Brian was at the counter making his purchase so I decided on two of these for mother. Because we were both a bit short on funds, we decided the gifts for our parents would be a joint effort. I would shop for mother while he selected something for daddy.
In the back seat of the car while we waited for mother we revealed our selections. Brian alleged grape Freshie would taste real good in the fancy clear drinking glasses, then he reached in the small brown paper bag and proudly showed me his purchase. I was appalled! He bought father two mousetraps. I told him that was the dumbest gift I'd ever seen. He smiled and said he knew dad would like them.
Mother gave us the box of wrapping paper and ribbons when we got home and we scurried to Brian's small bedroom to wrap our gifts. Brian finished before I did and he was pleased with the result. I scowled and told him that was the worst wrapped Christmas present I'd ever seen. Brian smiled and said, "Dad won't think so."
Christmas morning we were excited to watch our parents open gifts. Mother's face beamed when she saw the glasses and said they would be pretty on the Christmas dinner table. Eagerly Brian told daddy to open his. "I picked them out myself," he stated proudly. All eyes on daddy as he tore the wrapping. I was surprised. He actually looked excited, "Mousetraps! Great! I can sure use these. Thanks Brian."
Now - so many, many years later, I can still see the smile on my brother's face watching father open his gift of mousetraps. I know that we both would give anything to be in the store that exists only in memory, shopping for daddy and drinking grape Freshie* Christmas day in two sparkling beverage glasses.
*(Freshie was a Canadian drink mix that was a popular alternative to Kool-Aid in the domestic marketplace from the 1950s to the early 1980s.)