West Side Stories | Essay | Chicago Reader

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Marge and I wanted roller skates for Christmas, but we got dolls. My mother said Santa Claus thought we were too young for roller skates. We were probably five and six. That same year, Aunt Anna gave us little rosary beads--silver rosary beads in a little silver case with a chain on it. You put your finger through the chain and held the case. Very pretty little thing.

Also I remember that my mother cried that day. It seemed like she was crying all day. So after I grew up I asked her about it. "Mom, remember that Christmas on Flournoy Street when you cried all day?"

"You remember that? I didn't think you'd even noticed."

I said, "What was it all about?"

"Well, it was a very foolish thing. I've thought many, many times how really stupid that was. I was mad at your father because he gave Aunt Maggie and me the same gift. He gave us each a pound box of the Sampler chocolates." That's what she was hurt about. So she said, "Gifts aren't that important." See, you learn from other people's mistakes too.

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