Suzi, what’s the best Christmas gift you ever gave?
Episode #
Friday, December 8, 2023

Suzi, what’s the best Christmas gift you ever gave?

The Storyworth Podcast
Episode Description

Writer and illustrator Suzi Bevan shares a story about her father, who had a passion for writing poems and a dream of having one featured in the Saturday Evening Post. After numerous rejection slips, Suzi finds a way to honor her dad's passion by surprising him with a gift that honors his love for poetry.

The year was 1966. I had just given birth to our first daughter, Shel, and Christmas was coming up in four months. My dad had always written poems, and I knew his great hope was to have one featured in the Saturday Evening Post. No matter how clever or funny or poignant his poems were, in due time, there in the mail was a rejection slip. As a joke, he decided to paper his office wall with those rejection slips. He filled that entire wall, but he kept on trying.

At the time, my parents were still living in Scranton, Pennsylvania, and we were living about six hours south in Fredericksburg, Virginia. So we often wrote letters to keep in touch. In one letter, I asked my dad to send me some of his favorite poems, and I would keep them for his first granddaughter so she would know how clever her grandpa was. He was happy to oblige, and soon there was a fat letter with about 20 poems enclosed that he thought Shel would like.

I carefully typed out each one and decided to illustrate some with my drawings. I then took them to a shop in downtown Fredericksburg where they did copying and other business papers. I asked them to make a little booklet and we decided on the color of the cover and the typeset and I had 50 copies made. They did a great job. It looked quite professional. I couldn't wait to give it to him.

Christmas season arrived and we made our way from Fredericksburg to Scranton with packages and our dearest gift, our baby girl. We had a delicious dinner and the next day was Christmas. As I handed my dad this good-sized box, all wrapped up nicely with a big bow, he said, now let me guess what this is. Hmm. Some socks? A tie? No, it's too heavy. I can't imagine.

Well, when he opened that box and saw the booklets with a few favorite poems by Charles S. Ross on the cover, he was completely flabbergasted. He could hardly speak. He was so choked up that tears were falling from his eyes and from mine. He must have thanked me a hundred times that day. He'd say, I can't believe it. I can't believe it. Thank you, honey.

He loved my illustrations and showed everyone who came by to visit what he had received. The entire next year, he had a wonderful time handing out booklets to friends and family, and who knows, maybe even a stranger on the street. He wrote a beautiful thank you letter, but the best thank you was his reaction when he opened that gift. We're told it's better to give than to receive, and this was a perfect example how both giver and receiver were blessed with joy.

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