Archive for January, 2009


Pretty presents…pretty paper…pretty bows…

Well…again it has been all too long since I have posted onthis blog.  Good thing no one ever reads it!

A nice holiday season has come and gone.  Gift-wise I was very pleased, but two particular gifts stood out this year.  One was given and one was received.

As I have written in the past, I do a bit of bridge-tending for the railroad.  ( A railroad I loving call “The Only Christian Charity iin Transportation” since they hire many hard-luck cases, and do their best to try to make good with these people.)  Several years back the railroad hired a man down on his luck.  He wasn’t a railroader, and in fact was afraid of water, the boat we use, and scared of heights.  He had never operated a radio, or even been near a railyard or ship in his life.  He was a perfect candidate for the job…in the railroads estimation anyway.

This man and I bumped heads quite a bit in the first year or so.  In hindsight, I expected too much of him, and he was trying to learn the job with little help from me…or the railroad.  Finally I reached out to him because I realized he really did want to do a good job for the railroad, and the bridge.  The railroad stood behind him because they saw potential in him I didn’t see.  They were VERY patient.  (This is why both of us bridge-tenders are very loyal to this railroad.  They are very good people.)

Fianlly rather than criticize him, I tried to answer his questions as they came up, as did the railroad.  Eventually, he and I began to get along very well.  As the matter of fact he has become somewhat well situated to the job, and he should be very proud that he is now a railroader of sorts.  He work very hard to make sure the bridge is ready for action upon the call for duty.

Well this Christmas was rolling around, and I had given thought to giving him a little something in the way of a gift.   Money is tight though.   One day while purchasing some music books on-line, an offer from the vendor was made for a 30 dollar jazz “fake book” full of songs for 5 bucks.   I had all of this series and knew our bridge-tender had purchased a keyboard recently, so I felt this would be the perfect thing to give him.

I had my wife wrap the book up and left it behind on the bridge the last day before the holiday.  I expected a call saying “thanks”, but what I got was much more.

When the call came, this individual was so very excited!  He went on for about 5 minutes non-stop about how he was so glad to get this book.  He had been wanting some jazz tunes to play, and this book has all the chords and melodys for about 300 songs.  He was elated.

I was flabbergasted!  Five dollars well spent!

Something so insignificant to me, a very small gesture on my part, for someone who has worked so hard to better himself, and this moved him so much.  I felt very gratified to have been able to GIVE something to someone who was so grateful for the simple things in life.

Giving is better than receiving…almost…

Then my family Christmas celebration rolled around the Saturday after Christmas due to work comittments with my brother’s job.  We got together and opened gifts…the normal stuff.  Then my father presented my mom….and all of us…with copies of a DVD he had made of all our old childhood ‘Super 8″ movie films.

He had told me he was doing this some time ago, but I forgot…or mis-filed it in the Rolodex of my mind.

We all decided to sit down and watch these movies on the DVD.  I knew that it would be highly embarrassing for my brother and I.  But not really like we thought.

What a treat!  The gift of the year.  My wife finally got to see me as a young child.  The brother and I got to see things that sparked old memories.

I think watching the background was more interesting than the center-stage!  Old familiar tables and chairs, calenders, plates, silverware, drinking glasses my folks still have (And we kid them about!).  My father so young, mom and her coiffed hair ala-Laverne & Shirley.  The railroad track behind the house…that is now gone.

The vacation films from Gatlinburg.  Makes me realize how luckey we were as kids!  Despite all the economic issues of the 1970’s, we still had parents who saw to it we were brought up with many great times to look back on.

So many memories saved on a digital disc.  Digital memories of the movies my brother and I would watch on the old projector and a sheet when we were teens.

Embarrassed.  Not hardly.  What a wonderful, yet simple gift.  A true treat for us all.