With Love, from the Biggers

 Hopkins, Minnesota Christmas 1964

When I was eight what I wanted most for Christmas was a pair of skates. The park next to our yard had a skating rink. At dusk, it was lit up and hockey players skated effortlessly, making loud gunshot sounds as their hard black pucks hit the wooden walls of the rink. I begged for ice skates, but year after year, I was disappointed. Sometimes I slipped around on the ice on my boots. Sometimes I got lucky and joined a game of broomball which was meant to be played on the ice wearing boots.

For the Christmas of 1970, Debbie and Emmanuel combined the little money they had and gave me my own skates. They were white with red trim, had red and white polka dot laces and they were brand new. I could hardly contain my happiness. Before long, I was able to skate with ease, gliding along with the other skaters.

The following Christmas all four of The Biggers pooled their resources and bought a wooden, six foot toboggan—it was wrapped in paper and bore the tag, “To the Three Stooges. With Love, from The Biggers.”

By then we had learned how to dress warmly, so we thoroughly began to enjoy the winter season. I loved the snow and even though my face got chapped and wind burned, I couldn’t get enough of skating and tobogganing down the sledding hills. I always wanted to pass that toboggan on to my own children, because it meant so much to me. I realized how unusual it was for teenagers to sacrifice so much for their younger siblings and I have never forgotten it.

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