When the postman rings the doorbell Christmas morning, it can only mean one thing.

My Christmas present from Dad is here.

My large, extended family lives in New Jersey.  While we don’t make a big deal about presents, Christmas is a festive time for us.  Everyone gathers to enjoy each other’s company, share a meal and celebrate.

Maybe because I rarely make it back east to join them, I still exchange token gifts with my parents.  And every year, my parents – still together after fifty-three years – each send me something separately.  My mother sends something lovely and it always arrives a week before Christmas.

For my dad, however, December 25 sneaks up on him like snow in Chicago.  All of a sudden, it’s here.  Which goes to explain how most years I receive an overnight package arriving Christmas Day.  He loves the Post Office Priority Mail Express with holiday delivery.

It’s “the thought that counts” rings true, as the most memorable gift was the personalized sweatshirt with my name misspelled.  He did that two years in a row.  Shipped to me for a flat rate of twice the cost of the garment.  Still, it makes me smile.  Knowing my dad rushed around thinking about me on Christmas Eve?  Priceless.

This year, he changed things up a bit.  He knows how important shopping locally is to me and he wanted to purchase something from the store he loves visiting – Olive and Well.  At age 80, online ordering is not his strength and anyway he was well past the deadline for holiday delivery.  So, he picked up the phone.

Fortunately, Olive and Well’s owner Kay was able to help him out.  He didn’t quite have my address right and he was hoping to avoid a big shipping charge – couldn’t they figure something out and get it to me? After some conversation, Kay realized that Catherine is Cathy and “is that your daughter?” and indeed the Chamber office is right down the block.  She called me, we had a laugh and I received a wonderful gift of gourmet olive oil.  From my dad.  Before Christmas.

Top that, Amazon.

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Cathy Yen

Cathy Yen is the Executive Director of the Oak Park River Forest Chamber of Commerce.  She has lived in Oak Park for 21 years and done business locally, first as a retailer and then as a small business...

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