My Most Memorable Christmas Presents: The Best and The Worst.
When I was three, my Grandma made me some pajamas.
Needless to say, I was NOT impressed. You know how three-year-old boys are: they just want Toys! Toys! Toys!
It’s a bit vague for me to recall exactly what happened (perhaps Mom can remind me of the details). But I remember I threw a major conniption-fit (and probably hurt my Grandma’s feelings in the process).
Even though this was forty years ago, I still feel bad about how I acted. (But what can you say? Toddlers can be little shits at times!)
This was Christmas Eve. I recall going to bed naked, refusing to wear the pajamas. And when I woke up, I was furious to find that someone had put them on me while I slept.
Maybe Santa had done it, to prove a point.
Best: Lego Train Set
Our family didn’t have much money when I was young. We weren’t poor….we kids still had toys. Just that we didn’t often get expensive toys.
But when I was in Grade 2, I was totally blown away Christmas morning when I found a Lego Train Set under the tree. It included the tracks, locomotive, passenger car, box car and caboose. And (be still my beating heart!) a battery-powered MOTOR! Holy crap…the train actually worked!
Todays’ kids would say “Big Deal”. But keep in mind, this was 1971, long before video games or home computers existed. This train set was STATE-OF-THE-ART. And Lego wasn’t cheap, either. Even back then. This was above and beyond what I ever would have expected.
Not only that, but it pretty much quadrupled my entire Lego inventory in one shot. I spent entire summers playing with that Lego with my friends, well into my teens. And I still have much of that train set left (among the bits and pieces with the rest of my Lego collection) .
Best: Matchbox Racing Car Transporter
This was in ’66 or ’67, pre-dating Hotwheels. I was two or three. Matchbox cars were all the rage. I wanted a King-Size Matchbox Racing Car Transporter. I had seen it in the Matchbox Catalog This was basically a large green Matchbox toy, big enough to transport two other smaller racing cars.
This was a modest gift. By todays’ standards, it’d be the equivalent of a $20. But at that point in my life, that’s all I wanted, more than anything in the whole world.
Well, I GOT the truck. And I was thrilled. And it was big and green (my favorite color), just like in the catalog. I played with it for years and years, again, into my teen years. I still have the Racing Car Transporter. The paint’s chipped, the plastic windows are half-broken, but it still works. And I wont’ ever get rid of it.
Worst: Sticks and Stones
One Christmas, I think we kids musta been bad. We were probably acting up more than usual that year. Because we got STICKS and STONES for Christmas. I was about ten.
Needless to say, my sister and I were quite pissed off. My brother (who was around 5) didn’t’ seem to mind…he said he’d use the sticks to “fight the lions and tigers”. (Or so was his story at the time).
(Now, don’t worry…we still got our REAL gifts that year). Just that our folks made sure we got the Sticks and Stones too….to send a message. To let us know we had been acting like little demon-spawn, but they were still magnanimous to give us our nice gifts, in spite of this.
I don’t know…did this traumatize me for life? Probably not. I’m a reasonably happy productive adult, and I didn’t turn out to be an axe murderer. Not yet.
Best: A Ski Vacation in Alberta
The one indulgence my parents did for themselves every year was to take one week off and go skiing out West, just the two of them. They’d been doing this since we were infants.
It was just something Mom and Dad did. And there was an unwritten rule that ski trips were just for the parents, no kids allowed.
But it was a good break for them. (And for US, too!) Because Grandma and Grandpa babysat us, and we got spoiled rotten while the folks were away.
Years later, when we were older, one Christmas morning Mom and Dad announced that this year, we’d ALL be going on a ski trip together.
I couldn’t’ believe it…I had seen photos of the Canadian Rockies, and I had always wanted to go. But I didn’t’ think we’d ever in a million years be able to afford to take the whole family. At first I didn’t’ believe Mom and Dad. And when I found out they weren’t’ kidding, I was almost ready to cry with joy.
It was March when we did the actual trip. I was sixteen, it was my first “big” ski hill, and it was everything I ever dreamed it would be. And I’ve been coming back to the Rockies ever since.
Worst (and funniest): Cologne
I didn’t actually get the Cologne….it was my brother in his early teen years. He got a big bottle of Polo the week before Christmas from a relative (who shall remain nameless).
Now, if there is ANYTHING a 14-year-old DOESN’T have any use for, is a bottle of Cologne. Especially a smart-ass Spalpeen like my brother. I remember him shaking his head, incredulously, and wondering what to do with his gift.
But between me studying Chemical Engineering at the time, and my brother and I feeding off each other, we came up with an EXCELLENT use for it. You see, cologne has alcohol. So when you spray it to a lighted match….well, you get the idea….(Kids, DON’T TRY this at home!).
Suffice to say, Spalpeen and I emptied most of the bottle, making one fire-ball after another in the garage. Though it never occurred to us that perhaps all that vaporized musk might cause OTHER things to smell. Especially the Christmas Tree which Dad had just bought and had been storing in the garage, right next to us.
And what a beautiful tree it was. Dad always took his Christmas trees selection VERY seriously. He’d spend a long time picking out the perfect one. And that year, he had bought an especially expensive Balsam Fir, which he had been looking forward to decorating. He wanted the house to smell like fresh pine needles.
Anyway, a few days later, long after my brother and I had forgotten about our pyromaniac escapades, Dad brought the tree into the house, and bellowed:
“Jesus Christ! WHY does the tree STINK like perfume!?”.
For a second, Spalpeen and I looked at each other. (Uh-ohhhh!).
Then (Pffft!), we both burst out laughing.
Poor Dad. He was ready to burst a blood vessel.
We tried to say “Sorry…”
But we weren’t. Not really. 🙂