Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Christmas Modified But Not Forgotten

So where is A.C. Gilbert when you need him? You may recall Gilbert as the inventor of the Erector Set (1913) and many other toys. However, it was his unofficial title as 'the man who saved Christmas' that I wish to call upon here.

In the summer of 1918, with the U.S. in the full grip of W.W. I, a War Board with nearly dictatorial powers and little Congressional review, declared that all U.S. manufacturers should redirect their efforts into producing war materiel. The fact that most toys were already made in Germany meant that alternatives were not available. Gilbert and other U.S. toy manufacturers gathered up samples of their toys and paid a visit to these men. In no time the men were down on the floor playing with the toys, and once Gilbert said they could take the toys home, the toy industry got an exemption, toys were produced for Christmas and hence the above title.

Now my predicament is not nearly so critical, but the effect could be similar. With our living room effectively turned into a hospital room and with our inability to get access to all the Christmas boxes filled with decorations, our home will have to forgo its traditional role as the family gathering location. Judy and I formally acknowledged this concession to my healing a couple days ago; wouldn't you know that simultaneously one of the children stepped forward to volunteer their home and decorating time.

This whole issue might have passed unnoticed had not I received an out-of-the-blue email yesterday informing me of an article written in my hometown Indianapolis Star about my Mother ( ). The article's subject was holiday traditions, how they are fading and how my Mother was a keeper of traditions. I always knew this, but somehow when others say so, it drives the point home. Now baton has been passed (27 years ago). At first my sister and now I have taken the responsibility to carry on this Christmas holiday tradition.

I will eventually heal and concessions will be made to tradition, but Christmas will be saved in 2008 in the Piper household.


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