My Dad turns 65 tomorrow and when he opens his gift, he will pretty much know it will be one of the following…
There are the “go to” gifts: handkerchiefs, leather key ring holder (he has had the same kind for DECADES), leather wallet, shirts. All very functional gifts.
Then there are the gifts that contribute to his health (and well-being). You know, chocolate covered pretzels, chocolate chip cookies, chocolate covered pecans, Goldenberg Peanut Chews, or those pretzel Hershey Kiss M&M things…those are always a hit.
The gift card is always a possibility…to the movies, out to dinner, Amazon.
Gonna try something new this year though.
For my Dad. For his birthday…
My Dad worked every Saturday, and on really special ones when I wasn’t being dragged across Eastern Pennsylvania to my older brother’s soccer games, I would spend part of the day at My Dad’s jewelry store.
We always had the same routine: drive for what seemed like forever as I watched the familiar Main Line landmarks go by, into Wawa for our plain bagels with cream cheese and chocolate milk, and your copy of The Philadelphia Inquirer newspaper, opening the door to the store with nerves about the alarm (Will we set it off?), flipping the lights on, and settling down to eat together. My eyes scanning the rooms…the jewelry bench with all of its tools, the typewriter, the safes, the glass jar with colorful candies resting on satiny fabric covered glass countertops (which now sits on my kitchen countertop).
I can’t quite recall the order of the morning prep but I know it included ripping that satiny fabric off each case and folding it, placing trays of antique necklaces, rings, bracelets, and pins into the cases and onto the counter as you would direct me to each felted holder. Windex was sprayed, glass was cleaned. Cash register turned on. The torch lit, your head thing with the light placed on just so, as you sat down to work on the next job in the wooden box in the white envelope.
Often times, I played with the sterling tea sets, pouring imaginary drinks for imaginary people. Sometimes I would stand behind my Pop Pop, watching him work on the watches. I would sift through the collection of random, broken, or scratched precious stones, the ones that were not of great value but to me were like little sparkling treasures, or sit next to my Nana Vi as she typed on the typewriter.
But the best time of all was when a customer came into the store. Standing proudly next to you Dad, both of us with our aprons on, we would greet them. You would proudly put your arm around my shoulder and calling the nice old lady by her name (Mrs. ____) would say, “And this is my daughter, Dana.” The old ladies would ooh and aah over me and as they searched the cases for their next bauble I would unlock them and pull out pieces for them to try on. And if they bought a piece or picked up a repair, my chance at the cash register would come up. How I loved working that cash register. You would stand over my shoulder telling me which buttons to press, watching me give back the change.
The ladies that worked at the store would be there so we always got out for lunch. Crossing Wynnewood Avenue to go to Kips or walking around the corner to The Donut Depot, we always had lunch together on those Saturdays.
Once, my super skills were needed to locate a stone that had dropped under the work table. I think everyone – You, the ladies that worked there, had looked for that stone but you all turned to me when older eyes had no luck. I dove under that table with a mission. And after searching for what was only a minute or so, I stood up, tiny sparkly stone in hand, and announced that it was found. “Atta girl pudding,” You might have said.
When the buzzer would sound and the familiar door jingle was heard and Mom’s voice would call to us in the back, I knew it was time to go home. I would collect my things and as I was putting back whatever it was I had been looking at, you would ask if I wanted to choose a gold charm for my bracelet: the gavel (because I loved watching court shows), the paint pallet that said 1957 (because I loved all things art), the miniature box that held a whole set of miniature cards (because playing cards with my other Nana was the best), the envelope that opened with a real gold letter that would slide out, that read “Darling I love you” (because I was loved.)