Tag Archives: life

For Christmas, I Made My Mother Cry

When I was eight years old, my brother and I were trying to figure out what we were going to get for our mother for Christmas. I had already made a crude bookmark out of yarn in my second-grade art class, but it wasn’t good enough in my opinion. Gilbert and I thought about it for days, although most of the time we drifted off-topic and started wondering what Santa was going to bring us. Christmas was fast approaching, and we couldn’t find that “perfect” gift for her.

I came up with the notion that we could buy her something. My brother had a whopping five dollars, which was only five dollars more than I had. I had to find a way to earn some money, but people were not hiring little kids in Far Rockaway, New York back then. While walking home from school, I struck upon the idea of collecting Coca Cola bottles and returning them for a nickel each. I hit up every neighbor for their bottles, and when I told them what I was doing it for, they gave me all they had. One nice elderly woman paid me a whole dollar to “help her out by taking those nasty old bottles off of her back porch”.

I made a little over seven dollars this way. This was more money than I had ever had at one time.

On December 23rd, my brother and I walked from our second-floor apartment on Beach 19th Street to Central Avenue, our pockets filled with coins and a couple of dollar bills. We strolled up and down several blocks window shopping, occasionally getting in some additional ideas for ourselves at the toy shops. After over two hours of wandering, we came upon a jewelry store. Not just any jewelry store, mind you, but one of the most expensive ones in the area. I was convinced Mom would love some jewelry!

We went in and started looking at the diamonds. The saleswoman eyed us for a bit, and went in the back to get the owner. He was a kindly old gent, and he treated us like important customers.

“What can I get you two fine gentlemen this afternoon?” he asked with a smile.

“We’re looking to buy our Mommy some jewelry for Christmas,” I replied. Shopping was fun!

“Hmmm,” he mumbled. “What price range are you looking at?”

I pulled the dollar bill and a few handfuls of nickels out of my pocket. My brother pulled out his cash, and we placed all of it on the counter.

“Wow, that is a lot of money,” he said with a twinkle in his eye. The saleswoman and the two older ladies she was helping had stopped their transaction to watch us. The owner poked through my nickels. “I may have just the thing for you two gentlemen. Please wait here while I go to the vault.”

My brother and I started grinning. We were going to buy our Mom some expensive jewelry! We felt so grown up.

The owner came back with two items. One was a large pin with a bunch of red stones, and the other item was a green and gold bracelet. I picked up the “ruby-encrusted” treasure in awe. I was sure Mom would love it. My brother gravitated more towards the bracelet.

“How much, Sir?” I asked. The owner poked through the nickels again, and took exactly three dollars. He charged my brother three as well. The saleswoman and her customers came over and began to ooh and ahh, saying we got a good deal and that they were sure our mother would be pleased. The owner wrapped our gifts in shiny metallic paper with bows and ribbons. We thanked them all for helping us pick out the perfect present.

When Christmas came, we first tore through most of our presents under the tree. We then decided to give Mom her gifts. She was very pleased with my bookmark (“What a wonderful job you did!”). When she opened my ruby pin, however, she began to cry.

I was very confused. “I can take it back if you don’t like it,” I said.

She choked back her tears, and told me that it was the first time we had actually gone out and bought her a gift. When we told her of our shopping adventure, she cried even more.

“I’m crying because this is the sweetest thing you two have ever done,” she finally blurted. She gave us both a big hug.

So that Christmas, I gave her a ruby treasure, and a treasure from my heart she always remembered.

When my mother passed away twenty years later, I found the pin in her jewelry box. She had kept it all those years.


I originally started writing this story as an entry for one of Glimmer Train’s contests. It was one of the toughest ones to finish. My mother never had the chance to read any of my published work, although she used to play Dungeons & Dragons with us when we were still in our teens, so she did get to experience some of the modules I wrote.

When it comes to your work, make sure your loved ones have the opportunity to read it. Don’t force it on them, and don’t ask for feedback unless you’re just looking for the obligatory, “Oh, it’s wonderful, honey.” Should you be lucky enough to have a family member who will give you constructive criticism, consider yourself blessed.

About the Author:DeMarco_Web-5963

Guy Anthony De Marco is a speculative fiction author; a Graphic Novel Bram Stoker Award®; winner of the HWA Silver Hammer Award; a prolific short story and flash fiction crafter; a novelist; an invisible man with superhero powers; a game writer (Sojourner Tales modules, Interface Zero 2.0 core team, D&D modules); and a coffee addict. One of these is false.
A writer since 1977, Guy is a member of the following organizations: SFWA, WWA, SFPA, IAMTW, ASCAP, RMFW, NCW, HWA. He hopes to collect the rest of the letters of the alphabet one day. Additional information can be found at Wikipedia and GuyAnthonyDeMarco.com.

Hair Popsicle

Imagine this as hair…

I grew up in Fairbanks, Alaska. We moved there when I was ten. And as much as I hated it at the time, I grew to love it more. One of the reasons was all the incredible stories that I can tell for having lived there for a decade.

My favorite and the one that most people find bizarre is the Hair Popsicle story which believable or not, I may still use in one of my stories.

I lived at twenty-two and a quarter mile Chena Hot Springs road. The only place this road ran was the fifty miles from Fairbanks to Chena Hot Springs. There was a road that t-boned it and cut over toward North Pole (an actual town and home of the Santa Claus house where you could have letters from Santa sent to children with a real North Pole postmark).  To get from where I lived to my high school was a twenty-five mile trip one way. The school bus was driven by a neighbor who lived a few miles further up the road at the end of the paved and populated part of Chena Hot Springs road. She would keep the bus at her place overnight, drive it the one way picking up kids and then not return it back out there until after school when she dropped us all off. There was a definite small town feel among all of us who lived in that fourteen mile stretch of Chena Hot Springs road.

Why all this background? To set the stage. The bus driver didn’t just leave if you were running a few minutes late because the winter weather in Alaska, which was most of the school year, didn’t really accommodate waiting on the road for the bus.  It was cold. And dark. In order to get us to school in time we were catching the bus at something like 6am. Truth be told, in the heart of winter, it was mostly dark twenty-four hours a day.  So, the bus driver would hit the end of my driveway and honk, wait for me to run up the drive which was almost a quarter mile long, and I’d catch the bus.

Life in Alaska is a little different from anywhere else I’ve lived, and I’ve lived in eleven states.  Alaska is unique.

More setting – stay with me. Because we lived in Alaska and Alaska gets cold, our school didn’t officially close down until the temperatures hit sixty below zero. Mind you, back in the Portland area of Oregon, where I used to live, if it snowed two inches, everything shut down.  In Alaska, “home of the individual and other endangered species”, school and everything else went on until it hit -60°F and forget how much snow there was because we would still have four feet on the ground in April. Also, keep in mind that freezing is at 32°F. Sixty below is a full ninety degrees colder than freezing. At -50°F it was optional to go to school and the parent’s decision. I have been to school when it is optional.

This one winter, we had a long spell of cold that was in the -40°F range. This is where you can hardly breathe for the cold air hitting your lungs. I was running late that fateful morning and by the time I got out of the shower I had minutes to get dressed. I heard the bus honking as I was combing my long straight hair that was still almost dripping wet. I pulled on my boots, grabbed my coat and ran. No hat, no gloves. I didn’t even do up my coat. I just ran because I couldn’t miss the bus. Halfway down my long drive way, my hand came up and hit my hair.

You know how long hair, when wet, hangs in icicle like clumps? Yeah, that was my hair. And it had frozen in the few minutes it took to get halfway down my drive way. And frozen stuff that is hit, breaks.  Yep, I broke my hair. Cursing, I grabbed the frozen hair Popsicle from the snow and ran on.

Once on the bus, I was able to truly assess the situation. I was holding an icicle of hair about an inch in diameter at the widest part and about eight inches long. It had snapped off straight, right below my ear. As my hair thawed on the ride to school, I realized how bad it was. Do try to imagine it if you can. All day at school I got teased and then had to get a horrible shag haircut to minimize the damage done.

Needless to say, I was more careful in the future, and I got a cool (get it… cool… lol) story out of it.  Can’t wait to hear more tales that are stranger than fiction.