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    Best Holiday Gifts | Winter 2005 Out Here Magazine

    The best part of holiday giving is the joy it gives to the receiver.
    We asked some Out Here readers to tell us about the holiday gift that meant the most to them:

    By Carol Davis

    Photography by Sam Castro

    Almost Like Home

    It was a week before Christmas 1944, and Joseph Fecher was an 18-year-old sailor on leave from his Maryland naval base, lonely and far away from his Ohio home.

    "When I sat down on a stool at the USO counter in Baltimore's Union Station, a gray-haired, smiling lady brought me a cup of coffee and a doughnut without me asking," Fecher, of Brookville, Ohio, recalls. "Before I knew it, she had invited me to her home for Christmas."

    Christmas Eve was spent with the woman's family, enjoying a meal with laughter and good will, followed by a midnight mass at a nearby Catholic church.

    "With my eyes closed and singing the traditional Christmas carols, I almost believed I was home."

    "It was only when I crawled into bed in the room I was given that I understood why they were treating me so very special," he says. "There, sitting on the dresser was a picture of a young man dressed in Navy blues that had to be their son."

    Lou Bulebosh's treasured sculpture of a little girl seemed gone forever until it appeared under her Christmas tree.

    The next day, his new friends told him about their son, who was stationed on an aircraft carrier in the South Pacific. They were understandably worried.

     

    Later, they drove Fecher back to Union Station so he could catch a train back to his base.

     

    "With a handshake from Dad and a hug from Mom, she handed me a pen and roll of stamps. 'Please write to us and let us know how you are doing,' were her parting words. And so I have."

     

    Lost Treasure?

     

    Lou Bulebosh admired the terra cotta sculpture of the little girl each time she walked by the drugstore display window.

     

    "It was a sculpture titled Girl with Bird, and she was sitting on her heels with her hand out in front of her and her palms up, and there's a bird in her hand," Bulebosh, of Plymouth, WI, recalls. "She's looking up into the sky and she has a look of surprise, like, 'where did this bird come from?'"

     

    One day, as Christmas 1973 approached, she noticed that the favorite display was gone. "I was really disappointed when I passed the window,"

    she says. "I thought, 'I should have bought it when I had the chance.'"

     

    But she needn't have. That Christmas, Bulebosh opened a gift box from her husband, and inside was the treasured sculpture.

     

    For more than 30 years, she's gotten to admire the little sculpture each day. "I have it sitting," she says, "in the front room."