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Gag gift worked out in her favor

Editor’s Note: The Suffolk News-Herald is sharing Christmas memories of notable locals in order to help promote the Cheer Fund.

Suffolk native Tommie Draper remembers one Christmas where her husband and teenage daughter pulled off a joke on her, but it still had special meaning.

The family had a tradition of opening one gift on Christmas Eve and leaving the rest until Christmas Day, Draper said recently while recalling her favorite Christmas memories.

One year, when her daughter was about 16, the teen and her father came up with a special gift to give Draper — a pearl necklace.

However, they didn’t want her choosing that one to open on Christmas Eve, she said. They hit upon a way to ensure Draper would choose a different gift.

Draper’s husband went out and found the biggest box he could, wrapped it elegantly and put a giant bow on it. Naturally, Draper was curious and wondered about it all week long.

When Christmas Eve came around, that was the gift she picked to open.

“Of course, I immediately picked out the biggest box,” she said. “It was tissue paper, tissue paper, tissue paper.”

Finally, when she got to the bottom of the box, there was a candy cane taped to the bottom with a note from her husband saying she should have selected the small box.

Draper said the family all had a good laugh.

“They got a kick out of seeing the shock on my face when I got to the bottom and nothing was in there,” she said.

The pearl necklace finally was unwrapped the next morning.

“It was worth the wait,” Draper said. “My husband was happy because he didn’t want me to open the nice gift. It was special because my daughter went with my husband to select this gift for me.”

Draper also remembered that the family always has gone to church on Christmas Eve.

She believes the Cheer Fund is important because it gives back to the community.

“It’s better to give than receive, and the Cheer Fund is something we can all participate in,” she said. “I’m glad to see the goal has been met, but it’s still important we continue to give and to help.”

The Cheer Fund provides approximately $40,000 to the Salvation Army to purchase toys every year. It has already met its goal for the year, but a stretch goal of $45,000 has been announced. Donations for the Cheer Fund are accepted all year long, however, and it’s not too late to be counted in this year’s total.

To donate to the Cheer Fund, send a check to P.O. Box 1220, Suffolk, VA 23439 or bring it to the newspaper’s temporary office, 157 N. Main St., from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Wednesday through Friday. We will list your donation in the newspaper, but it can be marked “anonymous” if you like. Donations may be made in honor of or in memory of someone. If you bring the check to our office, we’ll even take your picture as you hand it to one of our staff.

Online giving is available through the link on the Suffolk Cheer Fund Facebook page. For more information on the Cheer Fund, call 757-539-3437.