Pine needles now took up more of the floor beneath the Christmas tree than presents. Bits of colored paper littered the floor around the chair he sat in. There was only one present left beneath it, and it was for him (1). His sister handed it to him as his three young children watched, all of them wanting to know what was inside it. He looked at the box before shaking it around like he and his sister used to do when they were kids. It didn’t make any noise.
“So, this isn’t a box of garter snakes?” he asked her jokingly.
“Would I really do that?” she asked, both remembering that day when he was five and she was fifteen. She stroked her brown wig, making it go slightly off center on her bald head.
“You know you would,” he said while unwrapping the paper of the present, “You did put that Howard Dean (2) sticker on my car (3) without telling me.”
“That was a joke,” she said, her eyes narrowing at him.
“Well, it wasn’t very funny,” he said, finally ridding the box of its protective cover. He took off the top of the box and couldn’t believe his eyes.
“It’s the one our great-grandmother made,” she said gently, “I want you to have it.” She pulled the quilt (4) up at the corners to show not only that it was real but that she had painstakingly repaired the small holes she herself had made when she had hung it up in her house with staples (5) years ago. For the year it had hung there, it had constantly reminded him that she had received it instead of him, the quilt his mother used to tuck him in with to protect him from the winter cold. The whites were still white after over a hundred years, and the maple leaves that covered it were red and orange and gold. He gently took it out of her hands and held it up himself.
“Why are you giving this to me?” he asked her, “You love this quilt.”
“You love it more,” she said.
He set it down carefully on the table and hugged his only sister’s shrinking frame (6), tears streaming down his face for the first time since their mother had left the quilt to her.
1. 1. In the 20th Century it was common for families who considered themselves or their heritage Christian to celebrate Christmas by buying a pine tree that had been cut down to decorate it with small glass balls and other ornaments and to put presents under it to be opened on Christmas morning. These presents were wrapped with a thin paper with a tag telling who the present was for and who it was from. Most of the presents were to and from family members, but some tags said the present was from Santa Clause, a fictional man who brought presents to children all over the world on Christmas Eve and who the children believed in.
2. 2. Howard Dean was a liberal politician from Vermont who was governor there for twelve years and made an unsuccessful bid for the Democratic Presidential nomination in 2004. During one of his speeches for the Democratic nomination, he made a rant that ended with a scream. This act made him lose a lot of popularity and also led many people to believe he was unfit to be president.
3. 3. A car is a wheeled motor vehicle used for transporting people from one location to another via roads made of concrete. It has an engine and usually has four wheels.
4. 4. A quilt is a type of bedding with designs on it, whether they’re simple or complex. The quilt described above is made from blocks of white fabric contrasted with maple leaves colored red, orange, and gold, alternating these designs in a certain, unspecified pattern.
5. 5. A staple is a type of metal fastener, usually used to hold papers together and also commonly used in construction.
6. 6. From the description of the sister here, it is evident that she has cancer because of the fact she is wearing a wig and because her body is wasting away. Cancer is a disease in which cells in the body demonstrate uncontrolled growth, slowly destroying the body in the process. In this time period, cancer survival rates were increasing, but there was still a good chance of dying from it, especially in older people.