“Hello dear, take a seat.” Said Auntie Barbara
The man stiffly sat down. His movements were rigid and unnatural.
“What is the matter, dear? Why do you grunt when you sit down?”
“Oh my knees. I messed them up while I was on duty.” said Charles.
“Oh lord! What happened? What befell you that caused you such distress?”
“I… I can’t really talk about it.” said Charles
“Ah, yes of course. I understand. War does things to people. Physically and mentally. Well, Charles, as you know, you are my favorite nephew, so I got you something special this year.”
Oh? This got his attention. He was just expecting another tea time, awkward silence, and ending with an side hug. He only saw his aunt once a year before Christmas and it was only because his Dad told him to. His Dad had been dead for 10 years now, but since he wasn’t around to tell Charles otherwise, Charles would have to keep going. The tea tasted bitter in his mouth. It was better if he didn’t think about it. The gifts were never good to begin with, but he loved his dad.
“Here dear, this is for you.” she said handing it over.
It was a brand new Cannon DSLR.
Charles couldn’t believe his eyes.
She continued, “Oh yes, I had to fight quite the war myself, on Black Friday. Can you imagine, me? A 74 year old woman fighting in the trenches of Best Buy. Oh yes. I wrenched this from a spry man around your age.”
Charles watched as his Aunt Barbara froze and her eyes went glassy. This, he recognized, was a flashback. He knew because his friends from war did it too, from time to time. There was a long drawn out silence as Charles politely waited for his Aunt to return.
“Oh yes, Black Friday was brutal.” she said distantly.
Charles could barely believe it. In the past, he received socks and books. This was the first time he had ever been given something decent. Charles was one of the biggest dispisers of Black Friday. How desperate did you have to be? Who in their right mind would physically wrestle with another human being just to get a piece of machinery. It was inhumane! The deals weren’t even that good! Fighting over physical goods? How petty. Why don’t these people care about family? Everybody is someone’s somebody else. The man that Aunt Barbara grabbed the camera from, could have been me. What’s going on here?
“Auntie, why?” pleaded Charles.
“Because Charles, I love you dearly. More than anything. Oh I know I haven’t been that good of an Auntie through your childhood, but that’s all going to change. For a long time, I didn’t give anyone a proper gift because I was afraid that my recipients would learn to expect something grand each year. I didn’t want to just be the “Rich Auntie” I wanted to be “The most loved Auntie”. Ever since we lost Uncle Billy, I’ve been doing some thinking. I recognized that the love he gave me was unconditional. He didn’t care what I, or anyone else, thought of him. All of his actions are authentic. That’s the kind of love I want to give you, Charles. Oh I know that money and objects aren’t everything, but I know how you’ve always wanted to get into photography. And I want you to know that I will do anything to help you, because I love you very dearly Charles.
Tears started springing from Charles’ face. No more tea. No more awkward conversations and side hugs. Charles’ burst from his chair and wrapped his arms around his Auntie as tight as he could.
“I love you too, Auntie” he whispered.