NBCPhiladelphia.com is asking well-known, and not-so-well known, Philadelphians two questions this holiday season: What is the best gift you have ever given? What is the best gift you have ever received? Here are some of those stories:
The Best Gift I Ever Gave: "I remember her face when she saw it."
The greatest gift I ever gave, and I know it’s going to come out wrong, was to my ex-wife.
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Before Tony Luke’s opened I was working a lot of jobs, I was a street kid. I got married young. I was 18 and my wife was 17 and we literally had to run away to get married.
We had no money. I went to a five and dime store and I bought a plasticky, thin, sort of tin, metal ring. It was painted a gold color and this was the ring I gave to her when we got married.
For years we had no money and I was working different jobs, and every Christmas that went by I had nothing to give her.
Then one year I gave her a real wedding ring – at least it was real to us. I paid $700 and it wasn’t even a quarter carat. I mean, you needed a microscope to find it. But I remember her face when she saw it, and I was so proud to give it.
The Best Gift I Ever Received: "It couldn't have cost more than $10."
My grandfather – my mom’s father – was an amazing man. He was a really good man. I mean, he was exceptional. He went to church and he was the kind of man that truly follows that lifestyle. He wore a scapular every day of his life since he was a child. He died when I was 3 or 4.
As for my grandmother, she always believed in me. She was my biggest fan, my protector. My grandmother died when I was 26 or 27 and it devastated me. I wanted so badly to have my grandfather’s scapular and my grandmother’s St. Christopher medal, but my mother couldn’t find them.
I wasn’t the best kid, but I would pray every night, "Grandma, Grandpa, if I could ever be the kind of person you could be proud of, let [my mom] find the scapular."
One day my mom was moving clothes in a drawer she had checked a thousand other times before and the scapular and St. Christopher medal just fell out of the clothes. I would wear the scapular every day and carry the St. Christopher medal.
But after a while, wearing the scapular every day and sweating was making it fall apart.
My cousin Joe, who was flat broke at the time, came and asked me if he could have the scapular for a day. I trusted him and he brought back the scapular and the medal in this round, plastic medallion on a metal chain.
"Here. It will never get damaged again," he said to me.
It couldn’t have cost more than $10. It never leaves my neck. I am never without it. When they bury me, they will bury me with this medallion.
"It was the greatest gift I’ve ever received and ever will receive."