I have only good memories of Christmas. In our family the spirit never involved getting it was the giving that made things golden. One year, my dad was given a gift to open, he shook it, squeezed it, turned it over, then said, “I wonder what it is?” My youngest sister, who was about two at the time, blurted out, “It’s socks!” He opened it, acted surprised, then told us how much he loved them. “Just what I needed,” he said. We didn’t debate over who got to open a gift first, instead, it was, “Open mine, open mine now.”
We got the same thing in our Christmas stockings every year: fresh fruit, nuts, mixed candies, a coloring book, and a fresh box of colors. We would creep down the stairs at six am, collect the stocking and rush back up to the bedroom. There we would eat fruit and color until the parents woke and Christmas day started. We spent most of the day with gift opening and playing with the new toys or trying on the new clothing. Then, we would go to my grandparents’ home for the holiday dinner and more gift opening.
I remember only one thing that I had wanted and didn’t get, but I knew I wasn’t going to get it so I forgot about it. I was watching a toy commercial demonstrating a ballerina doll. Her legs were designed to pose in ballerina forms and she had a large pink crown on her head, that, when pulled up, caused the doll to spin slowly. I said to my mother that I wanted that doll. After glancing at the commercial, my mother told me, “That doll is for little girls with clean rooms. See how clean that room is?” I studied the room around the child and doll. Yes, it was princess clean. I shared a room with two younger sisters; our room could never look like that. “Oh,” said I. That was it. I understood the message…sort of. That doll was not for me. Epic failure mother, if you had said, if you can keep your bedroom that clean, I’ll see about getting the doll for you, I would have made my grandest effort. However, your child psychology flew straight over my head and kept on going. It wasn’t important to me; I can’t even recall the name of the doll.
When I was nine, I asked for a special gift for Christmas. I asked for a typewriter. I never expected to get it as those things were not cheap. But I got one. It was made of plastic and was obviously designed for a child. I loved it. I was going to be a writer when I was done growing and it was the best present ever. I started writing immediately and had to be reminded that I was being rude to the rest of the family by not paying attention. It was a wonderful surprise. It left such an impact that I still smile when I remember it.