I looked at the Christmas tree in our living room, strung up with lights and ornaments, its trunk surrounded with gifts I’d carefully wrapped. This would be the first Christmas since my husband and I moved to Castile, New York with our children, and my parents would be flying in from Chicago for the occasion. I wanted everything to be perfect. I’d found great gifts for the kids, and a green cardigan sweater with a matching sleeveless shell I knew my mom would just love. But just days before the holiday, there was one gift still missing under the tree. One for Dad.
Shopping for Dad was a challenge. If he ever needed or wanted anything, he got it himself. If something broke, he didn’t get a new one, he just fixed it. He was a handyman and a tinkerer. His favorite hobby was restoring old wind up clocks. He already had every tool he could use. What could we get him, a broken clock to fix up? Where would we find that?
“Don’t worry,” my husband told me, before leaving for his job at the manufacturing plant where he worked. “We’ll think of something.”
I hoped so. But I was at a loss.
After work, my husband returned home visibly excited. “Did you think of a gift for Dad?” I asked, hopefully.
He nodded. “You know how they converted to a new timecard recorder at work?”
What does that have to do with Dad’s gift? I wondered. My husband went on…
“All day I’d been trying to think of what to get Dad. Then, as I was leaving, I saw a maintenance man removing something next to the ‘employees only’ door.”
It was an old clock hanging on the wall, four feet tall, made of solid oak with a square metal yellowed face and black Roman numerals peering out through smoke tinged glass. One hand was broken, and the glass in the long, vertical door was missing. Past employees had used it to “clock in.” Now with the electronic timecard recorder, it was obsolete.
“I asked my manager if I could take it,” my husband said. “He said sure, but who would want a broken old clock?”
We knew someone. That unique gift for dad… We found one just in time.
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