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About A Week: Gifts

Christmas isn't about how much you spend, says Peter Hinchliffe.

A million presents, all in fancy wrappings, tied and bowed with ribbons of silver and gold. Then another million, and a million more.

This year’s Christmas spending spree is in full spate - spurred on by a plethora of Harry Potter toys.

By Friday evening on the 24th shop shelves will be empty. Then exhausted shop assistants, along with all the rest of us, can look forwards to the arrival of Father Christmas, while trying to forget for just one day the inevitable reckoning - the December credit card bill.

Each Christmas we are driven to spend a little more than the year before. “No, no, a scarf won’t do. Aunt Lizzie gave us two Inspector Morse videos last year. We’re going to have to get her that microwave.‘’

Here then two stories to remind you that inexpensive gifts can mean a lot. And presents can be found in strange places. Both stories feature Lepton folk.

Edna Reynard flew to South Africa for a sunny Christmas with her son John in Randburg. John employed a maid, Bella. He didn’t like the idea of servants but realised that it would not be easy for her to find work elsewhere.

“Bella was a very cheerful person,’’ Edna recalls with a smile. “She was like a little barrel. John’s sons looked on her as a grandma.

“Before Christmas Bella was asked what she would like as a present. She wasn’t used to the idea of receiving presents and said she didn’t want anything. After some persuasion she said she would like a little bag.

“It took her an hour to walk to church every Sunday. An hour there, and an hour back. She wanted a bag to carry her Bible in.

“On Christmas Day we opened our presents in the garden. Bella received a bag with two handles on it. Nothing fancy. She said it was beautiful. That made me feel very humble.’’

Keith Hinchliffe tells the story of his granddaughter Lucy who went to a party organised by the social club at the place where her father works. There were lots of sandwiches, crisps, cakes, fizzy drinks - all the things children like.

And Lucy arrived home clutching a gift, a doll which sang and waggled its hips like an Hawaii hula girl.

Lucy showed the doll to her friend Amy. And Amy asked her mum “Can I have one of those for Christmas please?’’

Inquiries were made of the person who organised the party. “Sorry, no dolls left,’ came the reply. However a couple of dolls were eventually acquired, but neither of them was in working order.

Lucy’s grandad, a knackler, worked on them to no avail. They were consigned to the dolls’ graveyard - a black wheely bin.

On Christmas Eve grandad was helping with food preparations in the kitchen. He went to chuck something in the bin, and one of the dolls came alive. It danced. It sang. It was in perfect working order.

Both girls attended a nativity service at the local parish church that evening. The dancing doll was surreptitiously handed over from one parent to another.

And on Christmas morning there was one very happy little girl called Amy.

Christmas isn’t about how much you spend. The value is in the love that goes with the gifts.


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