Holidays. The time of year filled with memories. Everyone has a story begging to be told; waiting to be shared. The holiday season has us imagining scenes of beautiful homes covered in glistening white snow. There is the warm glow of candles in the windows, the scent of fresh pine garlands that adorn the entranceway. We imagine the aroma of freshly baked pies and cookies wafting through the air as we walk by, and the sounds of little children donned in velvet and silk laughing joyously. Family and friends gathering. The tallest of pine trees sparkling with hundreds of tiny lights, beckoning to us to sit nearby and enjoy its company, even for just a short while.
When we step outside of our imagination we know that the true story of the holidays is different for everyone. I do hope and try to believe that for everyone, there is a bit of perfection in every story. I hope that everyone carries their own perfect holiday memory in their hearts; even if it lasted for just a moment.
My perfect holiday memory is as simple as simple can be. It is two words. The two words didn’t come from just anyone. They were spoken by my father once a year. And they were spoken so earnestly that I never heard them without smiling to myself and thinking…he really means that. Those two words were “Merry Christmas.”
Robinson’s News Agency was my family’s business throughout my childhood, and into my young adulthood. Robinson’s was the place where kids got their first jobs as a paperboys or papergirls. Their very own paper route! It was where my grandmother would stock the shelves full of candy and my grandfather would stand behind the lottery machine and play people’s numbers for them. My mother worked in the office, and my brother, sister, and I had jobs doing whatever Dad needed. We sold freshly baked donuts, pastries, and bread from a bakery located one town over. We sliced the bread while it was still hot, leaving the plastic bags open so the steam could escape before we tied them up. We made and sold pizza, the best pizza in the area by far. Above everything else though, we sold The Boston Globe and the Herald, and we sold and delivered a lot of them. Robinson’s was a neighborhood gathering place. Everyone knew it, and our family knew everyone.
Why bring up Robinson’s at the holidays? Because it was the place where I learned to believe in the goodness of others. I learned humility; the fact that we are all innately the same. Nobody is “better” than anybody else. I learned the stories of real people. How they lived and how they loved. I shared in laughter and tears with these people who were so much more to me than customers and co-workers.
Robinson’s was open on Thanksgiving morning because the news had to be delivered. Those were the days when I couldn’t wait to see the picture and the headline on the front of the paper because I knew the picture would be in color! I enjoyed warm pumpkin, squash, and custard pies that may have been “damaged” en route from the bakery. I loved Thanksgiving morning at Robinson’s because I spent the beginning of the day with my extended family, people for whom I was so extremely thankful.
Christmas morning was no exception…we had to deliver the news. We also sold a lot of batteries and milk and eggs. Enter my perfect holiday memory…
“Merry Christmas.” my father would say to his customers. I could be standing at the bakery counter, or in the back room, and whenever I heard this, I smiled to myself, and basked in the warm and wonderful feeling it gave me. A simple statement it was, but he said it in such a way that left no doubt in your mind. What he was saying was “my family is thankful for all that you are and all that you do for us, and I wish you a very happy day.”
We closed on Christmas as soon as everyone was settled back in their homes, and the morning panic was over.
It is very different today. The Robinson’s News Agency of old no longer exists. It has given way to online news and Super Duper Supermarkets. It is preferable today to say “Happy Holidays,” and I have become accustomed to this myself. I give thanks for the days when I would hear my father’s strong, deep voice. I give thanks to all of the people from Robinson’s News Agency who shared in my perfect memory and never even knew it. To all of you…