We looked inside the dark cabinet, but could see nothing. Grandda reached into it, removing a sturdy looking cardboard box. The flaps were folded down on it so that we couldn't view the contents.
"What's in it, Grandda?" Marie wanted to know. "Can we look?"
Grandda carried the box over to the old bench that we often sat on, and sat down with the box beside him.
Lifting the flaps on the box, he reached into it. We all leaned forward, trying to see. He quickly removed his hand, and brought nothing out. Apparently, he had changed his mind about the procedure.
We looked at him in puzzlement. What kind of game was he playing?
"I decided to let each of you take turns reaching in. Here are your directions: reach in and feel till there is something in your hand that feels interesting to you. Marie, since you are youngest, would you like to go first?
Marie backed up, shaking her head no.
"Okay, Les? How about you, then?"
I was brimming with curiosity, but then, I thought about a spider maybe lurking inside that old box. I remembered seeing Grandma step on one in the house. What if one had crawled into that box? I knew spiders loved the dark places.
Les lifted a flap and slowly inserted his small hand, feeling around tenuously, and we all watched his face. What was he feeling?
This is like reaching into a grab-bag, I thought. Les was moving his hand around, and the rest of us stood there waiting our turn. I looked at Grandda, and saw a big smile on his face. He was getting a big kick out of the whole deal.
Finally, after what seemed like an hour, but in actuality was only a few minutes, Les removed his hand and pulled out a what looked like a carving. He held it up to look at and we crowded around him.
"Let us look at what you picked out!" Rosie demanded of him.
Bossy Rosie! Would she never change? One could only hope.
Les obediently held out the object in his hand. It was a perfectly carved bald eagle. Where did Grandda get it?
"Okay, do you want to look for one now, little Marie?" he asked.
Encouraged, Marie nodded and reached into the box. What would she choose?
She felt around for a long time, before finally bringing out an object. We all leaned forward, straining to see, but she just held it close to her and smiled at Grandda, then hugged his neck.
It was my turn and I was anxious to take it, but I decided to let Rosie to go next. So, I stepped back and indicated to her that she should take the next one.
She looked at me in surprise, then, shrugging her shoulders, reached inside the box. She rummaged around until a smile crossed her face, and she removed her hand. She held a perfectly proportioned figure of a horse. Who even knew she liked horses, anyway? I sure didn't.
Then it was finally my turn. I felt around, touching the smooth wood. There seemed to be dozens of them. Where did he get them? Finally, I decided on mine. I brought out a carving of a dog.
I had always wanted a dog, but we couldn't have one in our house. My Da hated them for some reason.
We all turned to Grandda then and thanked him. He just smiled a "you're welcome" to us and put the box back into the cabinet. Then he said, "Merry Christmas, children!"
We all headed back indoors. As we walked, I turned to this surprising man walking beside me and asked, " Where did you get them, Grandda?"
"Where do you think, boy?"
"At a department store?"
He just smiled and shook his head.
Then it dawned on me that he was always whittling on a piece of wood. He had carved them! But why were they shut away in a cabinet?
(To be continued)