Creating connections through the arts and across cultures

Holiday Memory from Pop—Happy Christmas Eve Day—Following the String from our Christmas Tree—a son takes a step into growing up

When my brother, Gary Thompson, was 13 years old, he took a step into manhood. My father, Erwin A. Thompson, remembers the event like this. ---JGR

Gary always liked the out of doors. Fishing, hunting, and trapping were things that he enjoyed and liked to spend his time at.

We used to trap rabbits in "figure four" traps. The name came from the fact that the triggers were put together in the shape of a figure four. The back of the box was attached to the floor at the rear by leather hinges. The front was supported by the trigger set. The bait, usually a small piece of apple, was attached to the end of the horizontal bar of the 4. When the rabbit tried to eat the bait it dislodged the trigger from the "set" position and the box trap fell, keeping the rabbit inside until morning when we ran our traps. We had a few old traps around, left over from the days when I trapped rabbits before I went to the service.

Our family had our Christmas gift exchange on Christmas Eve. One unusual part of it was that if a gift was too big to fit under the tree or too awkward to wrap, we would put the name of the person who was to receive the gift on a card under the tree and attach it to a string. The string led the person to the gift.

This particular Christmas, when Gary was 13, there was a tag under the tree with his name on it and a string attached. We all wondered what it could be and who it was from.

It was our custom when someone got a string the whole family went along to see what the gift might be and enjoy the recipient's reactions.

This string led us outside, around the house, and eventually into the basement. There we found four new rabbit traps! Some of the family thought that I had made them for him, but I had not. He had made them for himself!

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1 Responses »

  1. Wonderful story! And, made even better by the fact that you have your dad to tell them!

    I'll have to remember Gary's plan. If you really, really want something specific for Christmas, get it or make it for yourself!

    Have a wonderful Christmas and successful 2008!

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