In my sister’s blog, “The Greatest Gifts” at mitchowl,  she tells a family story which I have to respond to.  In her story, she tells about doing something for our father, which she describes as a wonderful gift to him.  But she probably doesn’t realize that it also became a “Greatest Gift” to me as well.

            Like everyone else in our American culture, I love the many Christmas movies which have replayed from year to year.  From “It’s a Wonderful life", with Jimmy Stewart to the more modern “Santa Clause” and “Elf”, Christmas movies are fun to watch as part of the festivities of the season.  But my all time favorite Christmas movie is a short story told in a BYU production which was made in 1978. 

The movie, “The Gift” is only 18 minutes long.  Set in the depression of the mid 1930’s.  A twelve-year-old boy who has very little money decides to get up early on Christmas morning to do the farm chores for his dad. 

I love this movie because it tells the story of my sister and I, when we lived on our family egg farm a decade earlier (than when I first saw the movie). Like my sister said in her blog, it didn’t happen at Christmas time, and we didn’t even intentionally start out thinking, “Let’s do this as a gift for Dad.”  But that’s how it turned out, and in the process, it has become a lifetime favorite memory for me.  So I am the one who really received a gift back then.  Thank-you, sister, for hating early mornings, and pulling me into what became one of my favorite night time pastimes. 

Here is my version of the story.  

Sometimes Dad had problems, so when we got home from school, we found that we were way behind on the work.  On these “bad days” the last thing to be done was the egg gathering.  Sometimes part of it wouldn’t get done at all.  Then we would have to get up by 4:00am to gather before school the next morning.  We didn’t like this very much.  In fact on one such occasion my sister told me that she’d rather do it herself the night before.

So that’s what we did.  After coming in late one evening, after one of “those bad days”, and after having supper, we told Mom and Dad good night and went downstairs to bed.  Then we went out the basement door and back to the green house.  (We called it the Green house because we originally used green flats to gather the eggs in that particular chicken coop.  We also had chicken coops named the Red house, and the Yellow house.  But the name Green house was the only name that stuck.)  The lights were off now in the coop but we had a flashlight. 

It took hours to gather that building in the dark with just the two of us, and with only a flashlight to see what we were doing, but we worked harder then ever at it, and we finished sometime in the middle of the night. 

At 3:50 AM, Dad came down to get us up to help gather the green house.  We got up and went down to the farm with Dad to get started.  As we went inside the coop, Dad looked at all the eggs on the carts in front, and at the empty gathering trays under the chickens with amazement.  We reacted just as shocked as he was, not admitting to any knowledge of how the work had been mysteriously done during the night.  After a minute of looking around, Dad shrugged his shoulders and said, “It must have been gremlins that did it.”

That was so fun to do that frequently after that, “Gremlins” worked at night unexpectedly.  One time was a major undertaking.  One of my older brothers, Keith, was married with a family of his own.  He worked part time on the farm along with his college job.  We were buying egg cartons by the railcar load out of Macon, Georgia.  But the nearest railroad siding, where we could unload was in town, about four miles away.

One Friday evening, Dad spotted our rail car load of egg cartons parked on the side rail.  There were between 1000 and 1500 bundles of cartons to unload.  On a truck we could get about 100 bundles.  Dad took my older brother, Keith, my younger brother, Warren, and me over to load up a truckload just before dark.   It was a lot of work to unstack the cartons from the rail car, carry them over to our truck and restack them in the truck.  We then drove the truck home and we were then only half done handling that load of cartons. 

Unloading was harder, because every bundle had to be lifted up into the second floor of the green house, which was now used for carton storage.  After getting back with this first load, it was getting dark and too late to unload it.  So Dad arranged for Keith to come back at 4:00 AM to help us finish unloading the rail car. 

In no time Keith, Warren and I were making plans.  Dad finally went to bed at 10:00 PM.  At 10:30 PM we felt it was safe to start.  We went to the farm and unloaded the truck that Dad had brought in.  Then we took two trucks back to town.  As we went past Dad’s open bedroom window we shut off the trucks and coasted so Dad wouldn’t wake-up.  In town we loaded both trucks by Lantern light, working like mules as fast as we could. We then went back to the farm, coasting past Dad’s bedroom window with lights and engines off. We unloaded and went back to town to load up again, and then back to our farm again. 

All night we worked like our lives depended on it.  At 3:30 AM we still had 2 trucks to unload.  Finally we finished and Keith split for home.  Warren and I slipped back in the basement door and to our rooms.  We could hear Dad moving upstairs.  I didn’t have time to get undressed as dad approached my room, so I just got under the covers to hide my dirty work clothes.  Dad came in to wake us up.  I followed Dad down to the farm and was shocked along with him that everything was already done.  Again, Dad said, “Gremlins must have done it.”  As always it made a dreaded job fun. 

            So what started out as a way for my sister, who hated early morning chores, to not have to get up at 4:00am, became a pattern of giving our dad a needed break from his “Bad days” on the farm, and of giving us children a feeling inside that can only be experienced by giving of ourselves.  Thank-you Sister, for including me while learning a wonderful lesson of life. Because I watch that Christmas movie, “The Gift” every year, I always think of those Gremlins of our youth.  And I realize that we, the givers, were really the recipients of the gift.  And It is a gift which I will cherish my whole life.

13 thoughts on “Gremlins”

  1. Hey Ron, I’m so glad you told this story.  I had forgotten many of the details.  Mostly I just remembered hating to get up early and loving the feeling of doing the job on the sly.  I’d forgotten about you guys unloading those cartons and coasting past Mom and Dad’s open window.  Thanks for helping me relive these fun memories more fully. Even with the hard work and the stress of the farm we had a pretty good childhood, right?

  2. The most difficult things in life, for me, seem to bring out the fondest memories.  Thank you for sharing this story, Ron.  Especially with today’s society, it’s difficult to teach today’s children that hard work and the love of your family brings such joy, in the end.  Thank you for stopping by with the wonderful Christmas wishes.  I know all too well the long days at work and turn around to the joy of coming home to be with my family.  I am happy that you get to have "all" your children at home with you this Christmas.  May your table be filled with all the love you share for each other!  Even though we had an early Christmas this year (due to work), and we don’t like doing it that way, we had the most wonderful times and have made brand new memories to share for years to come.  I know I’ve said it before, but I’ll say it again, thank you for sharing your stories. You have made an impression on me with your writings.  You really shoud write a book.  Have a wonderful Christmas and the most Happiest of New Years!!

    Thank you, Ron, for the gift of your stories from real life. You are giving the gift of family love and devotion which some of your readers may never have known and long for. I have my own little memories, but they are important only to me, so I write my own stories from imagination.
    There is  longing in the human soul, I think, for something uplifting and encouraging–friends and loved ones who are always there to look out after us in times when many people are alone and disconnected. Through our stories, both of value in their own ways, I believe we are performing an essential service, easing that longing, encouraging our readers that someone is there to care about them, even if they haven’t found those people yet, that there is hope those people exist somewhere.
    I am so happy to have discovered your Space and wish you many good memories to share in the new year.
    By the way, I believe BYU also produced another Christmas story, "Mr. Gruber’s Christmas", I believe it is entitled, with Mr. James Stewart in the title role. It’s a wonderful story of Christmas spirit and sharing and one which I have enjoyed and highly recommend.
    I wish you and yours a joy-filled and contemplative Christmas, my friend!
    Peace and love, always…

  4. Hi Ron,
    I see you learned the work ethic really young. Of course you know that your father knew the identity of the gremlins very well,lol. I too would rather stay up till all hours finishing a job rather than try to sleep knowing I have to get up early.

  5. Ron I marvel at your story telling, such a memory bank you have so gifted. Have you put all thes in book form for the family to pass on through the years. Love reading and getting to know of you and your family, thanks for sharing. What a nice Christmas Eve surprise to hear from you, Wishing you and your Lovely Family  Merry Christmas from our home to yours. Here’s a card for you — Xmas Card, click here ,wow so nice from Ashland, check it out. Many Blessing to you, Respectly Deanie 

  6. Each story you tell gets better and better. I so look forward to your next childhood adventure. Hope you are having a fantastic day with your family. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

  7. Your wonderful stories warm the heart.  It is indeed a gift to be able to relate them in this way.  I really enjoyed Val’s Christmas Eve pictures and blog.  I am so happy I found you two. 

  8. Hey Storyteller.. I dropping by from Zeynep’s Space!  I so like your space!  I love anyone who values family, that is so important in todays trying times!  And I can so see it in all your pic’s that you are so happy, and love just surrounds you! That’s great! I have a lot of people that surround me, love the music, performace, and then it’s on to the next.. and sometimes, just sometimes that smile I have about me seems to drizzle, and I look for the most simple things in life that slaps it right back on my face… and that’s what I value the most… the pure love, and the greatness in the simple things that most people over look!  And your blogs so rock! I love them, and hreat reading!
    I am wish you, and your family, and all your friends a Merry Christmas (however it’s pasted), and a up coming Happy New Year 2007!
    Great Space, Great Blogs, and I sure you’re a great person to get to know!
    Be Safe & Be Well,
    I love the music you have playing!

  9. Oh yeah, I forgot, I l;ove Christmas films, esp. the animated ones, didn’t care for "Polar Express!"  But I MISSED seeing any of them this year, I was booked, and worked.. maybe next year!  I too like enjoy those films!
    Take care,

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *