By Jack McCall

As I write this column, it is already December 10. As you read it, there are less than 15 shopping days until Christmas. Black Friday, the biggest Christmas shopping day of the year, is behind us. But here in modern day America, it is still buy… buy… buy!

In spite of the fact that debt (both nationally and personally) is still on the rise, we Americans tend to get a little crazy at Christmas.

Many, again this year, will spend money they don’t have on gifts the receiver doesn’t need (or sometimes want). It amazes me at all the “junk” marketers attempt to sell us. Somewhere along the way we, as a nation of people, lost the skill of recognizing the difference between trinkets and treasures. So while we are accumulating the trinkets, we miss out on the treasures.

Across the Miles
Jack McCall

My friend, the late Bob Rickman, was quite the personality and philosopher. One Christmas, he visited his young grandson in Florida. As his Christmas gift to the little boy, Bob took a red, tin Prince Albert Tobacco can, put a half-dozen pieces of small gravel inside it, and glued the top shut. To the consternation of his son-in-law, that Prince Albert can became the little boy’s favorite Christmas gift. He spent most of his waking hours walking around and shaking the can. The boy’s father would later declare that he had spent “hundreds of dollars on gifts to be beat out by a tin can!”

I guess we all have purchased gifts for a child only to see the little one more interested in the bow, or the wrapping paper, or – by all means – the BOX!!

One Christmas I gave our first granddaughter a pad of notes and some tan shoestring for Christmas. That’s what she liked – paper and shoestrings. It doesn’t take a lot to please a child.

Sometimes, I think we purchase all those toys, not so much for the children, but for ourselves and others’ eyes.

Speaking of boxes, I gave two of our granddaughters a big box one Christmas. I got the boxes at D.T. McCall and Sons Furniture and Appliance. You know, they are the folks who “haul the boxes off.” I figured they had plenty of big boxes.

Our son, J. Brim, and wife Emily are the proud parents of Oakley – 8 years old; and twins – Whitman and Amelia – age 2. They also have two “inside the house” dogs: Marley and Zeke.

I was interested to see two new pieces of furniture in their house a while back. What appeared to be end tables were, in fact, “dog boxes.” Turns out, inside those dog boxes is one of Whitman’s favorite places to play.

So, I’ve listed a big box from D.T. McCall’s on Whitman’s Christmas list.

As our grandchildren have been growing up, Kathy and I have constructed a number of “tents” in our bedroom when the girls come to spend the night. Of course, we go all out. We stretch quilts and bedspreads from one piece of furniture to another, anchoring the corners as best we can. Then, with the help of the girls of course, we spread out sleeping bags underneath the tent roof. It is quite an undertaking.

After our guests have chosen their favorite stuffed animals and get settled in; then begins our attempt to get them to go to sleep. There is usually lots of giggling… and eventually complaining on their part that ultimately results in threatening on my part.

Finally, one (it’s never the same one) becomes exasperated and leaves the tent and gets in bed with us. Before the night is over, they all three end up in our bed. So much for the tent! And somewhere in the night I am awakened by someone’s foot up under my nose.

Tin cans, cardboard boxes and makeshift tents can make for the best of times – and memories.