My Dad, who I never knew because he died of cancer when I was but 17 days old, came from a large family - ten siblings, which included a set of twins but one twin died at birth or was born dead - don't know which - but even a family of nine children can be pretty daunting to raise on a poor coal miner's wages.
However, his family was very loving and many of those aunts and uncles were also very expressive of their love, particularly to the children around them.
One uncle and one aunt in particular were the type that you couldn't get near them without planting a kiss on their cheek and giving them a big, big hug. It was mandatory! And growing up around these two, it became a very important part of my being, gave me something I didn't readily get from my Mom or her siblings. Not that they didn't love their children, nieces/nephews as much as my Dad's family did but they just weren't really demonstrative about it.
This aunt though in particular was something else.
Aunt Sis was also the black sheep of my Dad's family. She had major problems with alcohol, which I learned bits and pieces about as a child and later in life, having married an alcoholic and getting involved myself then in Al-Anon, it gave me more reason to try to learn and understand about that particular disease too.
When I was very small, Aunt Sis showered me at virtually every holiday and definitely on every birthday with some type of stuffed animal. They were coming out the old yazoo but for some reason, my mother never allowed them to be placed on my bed, I was never permitted to play with them. Instead, she packed them away, all nicely wrapped in plastic bags, and stored them in the attic. I could never understand her logic in doing that and always wished she would let me use them at strategic places in my room, on my bed, as part of the room's decor. I lost that battle over and over again.
After I started school, my aunt's drinking took on a turn for the worse as did her actions and she soon divorced her first husband and just as quickly, married another guy. They were both cut from the same cloth and the drinking picked up speed which also caused her to often forget things of importance in my life - birthdays and even sometimes Christmas too. If she did remember either occasion, generally I would receive a card in the mail and either a $5 bill or $10 with a note, to get myself a nice warm pair of gloves. Each time I got one of these cards and some money, the message was always the same about getting a pair of gloves. I don't know why that was all she ever thought I might need but that was her instructions at any rate.
One year though, when I was around 15 or 16 and about a week before Christmas, I found a package in our mailbox from Aunt Sis. Hmmmm. Wonder what this could be as she had never sent a package to me before.
I got home and showed the package to my mother and she allowed me to open it then and there and there lay the most beautiful red kid gloves, with a black knit insert between each finger that I had ever seen! These gloves were just gorgeous in my eyes and the fit of them was divine. Soft and silky feeling on the inside and so sleek and slick on the exterior and I thought I was really something special then to have this pair of exquisite gloves.
At first, my mother didn't want me to wear them except on Sundays when I would go to church. Wearing them all the time she said would not just wear them out but also, would increase the risk of losing one of them. So until after I finished high school and had moved away from home to work, I followed my Mom's guidelines.
But once I was out on my own, those gloves came out like clockwork as soon as the temperatures began to drop and the season would evolve from autumn into winter. I wore them daily, with whatever coat I had at the time, regardless if the red gloves set the coat off, matched in anyway with the coat, those gloves were a definite part of me.
They lasted for roughly 15 years until after moving again, someone one disappeared and then shortly thereafter, so did its mate.
But for me, they have remained in my mind, in my memories of what I always felt was the most special gift I ever received and one which spoke legions to me each time I put them on about how much Aunt Sis loved me.