Today is the last day of Hanukkah and, coincidentally, the day before Christmas. Many of my friends are either completing their annual family celebrations or just about to start. Some, like my friend George, will observe Christmas, per the Greek Orthodox Church, on January 7th. But in truth, there are any number of other reasons to celebrate with friends and family in December whether you are a Believer or not. So to all of you of any Faith or of no Faith at all, Happy December. Enjoy your time with your loved ones.
I had dinner last night with my daughter. At 33 she is an articulate woman, successful businesswoman, and all-around good person. I’m a big fan. I would want her as a friend if I wasn’t already lucky enough to have her as my daughter. And I thought that what I should do for today is to post something particularly family-friendly, something appropriate for today. Below is an article that was first published in February 1991.
The Ideal Macaroni Company
Ideal Macaroni Company
6001 Richmond Road
Bedford Hts., Ohio 44146
January 4, 1991
I purchased a package of your “Choo Choo Wheel” pasta several months ago at my local Acme grocery store. It was on sale. Sometimes I buy your product. Sometimes I buy the store brand. As I placed the box in the cart, I noticed a coloring contest on the back of the package. It occurred to me that one of my children might color the picture.
My daughter Jennifer noticed the picture while I was cooking dinner. I had forgotten about it. She read the instructions and asked if she could color the picture and enter it in the contest. I said “why not” and she excitedly began. She got a little done that night and I figured that by the next day it would be forgotten, but I was wrong. As she had time that week, after school, that Saturday, Jenny completed your picture. She agonized over the color selection. She cleared the final colors with her older brother and sisters. “There’s not too much brown is there? Could this be blue, too?” She was very serious, the way only a nine year old can really be. And when it was done, it was excellent. She is not the neatest of children. She is not the neatest of my children. But there it was. One super picture. I wanted to save it, but she wouldn’t hear of it. This was for the Ideal Macaroni Company. This was HER entry. We prepared the envelope together. And I mailed it the next day.
The UPS man arrived at my house today at 4:45. I wasn’t expecting anything. I looked at the label and told my son to have Jenny come into the living room. She dragged herself away from Mario 3 and came upstairs. I told her the box was for her. She didn’t understand until she saw that it had come from the Ideal Macaroni Company. We removed the packing tape together and then she opened the box. “I WON. I WON. I FINALLY WON SOMETHING!” She was so excited. She knew that a trip for four to Washington D.C. wasn’t packed in this box, but… Inside the box was a little brown bear. A stuffed animal with soft huggable fur. No notes. No letters. A bear. It was perfect.
I don’t know if my daughter has won first prize for December’s entries or a consolation prize, or what. It really doesn’t matter today. What’s important is how good my Jenny feels tonight. We all try as parents to give our children all of the love and support they will ever need, and yet it’s not enough. Sometimes it is the outside validation and recognition that means the most. Whether it is their peers, their teachers, or some contest judge in Bedford Heights doesn’t matter. What is important is that someone has found their work to be good and wants to reward their effort.
Long after her picture becomes frayed and faded, my daughter will remember the day she opened the brown box and removed her bear. The kids are still trying to determine whether she’s still in the running for the Grand Prize. I think she already got it. Thank you.