Christmas Memories

generosity, mandarin orangesMy Christmas gift for you is one of my favourite Christmas memories. It was first published in the anthology, Christmas, Stories & More and then republished in my book Another Perspective.

Orange-Coloured Memories

My earliest Christmas memories are not of coloured lights or gifts under the tree. They are not even of fun and laughter shared at family gatherings. Instead, they are of something I looked forward to with great anticipation. The sweet smell made my mouth water and I could hardly wait to have a bite of the juicy goodness.

It may sound strange, but my fond memories are of a fruit that came in little wooden boxes. Mandarin oranges seemed like an exotic treat because they were available for so short a time.

I grew up in a family of five children. My sister, Barb, fourteen years older, was living on her own when I was very young, so she posed no competition for these treats. Two older brothers, Dave and Rob, were teenagers and could devour a box of oranges in an afternoon, leaving non for my little brother Tim and me.

To ensure everyone got their fair share, my mom would purchase a separate box for Tim and me. I clearly remember her counting the oranges in the box and dividing them evenly between us. Mom warned us, “This is all you will get. It’s up to you when you eat them, but you need to know, if you eat them all today, there won’t be any more.”

I took this to heart and hid the bag of oranges in my room, determined to enjoy them for as long as possible.

Tim tried to make his last, but they were so tasty, he’d soon finish his share. Before long, he’d be at my bedroom door begging for just one more.

There was no way I was going to part with any of mine. It wasn’t fair to expect me to look favourably on him just because he was only five and I was eight. Tim would ask mom to make me share. She’d patiently explain that he knew the rules and I could do whatever I wanted with my oranges.

I remember seeing an extra box of oranges that we weren’t allowed to touch. There was no explanation and one day the whole box was missing. Later, one of my older brothers shed some light on this mystery. He said Mom had told him he couldn’t open this box because Dad was taking them to the renters.

Our dad rented a small house to a single mom with young children. Mandarin oranges were expensive and he knew they couldn’t afford them. Dad wanted them to enjoy this treat as much as we did, so he was going to deliver the box to them. In my brother Rob’s words, “Our greedy little pleading faces had no impact on him whatsoever.”

Dad ensured we had all we needed and then quietly shared the abundance with others less fortunate. If Mom hadn’t told us, we never would have known of his generosity.

My quiet, unassuming dad unknowingly taught me to give without seeking attention. To some, giving a box of oranges may not seem like a big deal. To that family, it showed someone cared.

Christmas is a time when people openly show compassion and generosity. I had the opportunity to witness a modest example of this, and is the reason that some of my fondest Christmas memories revolve around mandarin oranges.

And yes, I did eventually give in and share with my little brother. Not because I had to, but because I learned how good it feels to freely share.

8 thoughts on “Christmas Memories”

    1. Merry Christmas to you as well. May the peace, love and hope of Christmas remain in your heart throughout the coming year.

  1. A special article, dear cousin Tandy. I sure do remember those mandarin oranges too. One year, after we were married, we lived in the states. There were no mandarin oranges there. My Mom and Dad drove to where we were pastoring and brought a box of m. oranges. Ar the border they were told they could not enter the United States with those oranges. My Dad pleaded and they said, “If you take all the peel off, we’ll let you keep them. My parents peeled all the oranges and arrived at our home with ready to eat amazing oranges. Best taste and a great story. Merry Christmas dear Tandy and Brian and family Love you, Shirley

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