One of the things no one ever mention when becoming a parent is how you wind up revisiting everything from your own formative years. Holidays especially. Christmastime is no different.
I seem to have a vague sense of being somewhat oblivious to the holidays as a child. My parents may remember this somewhat differently. I know we received homemade flannel nightgowns, socks and underwear were replenished, and then there was the “good stuff.”
Sometimes the “good stuff” was not as good as we hoped. One year, I was baffled by one box under the tree. It was a long rectangle and heavy for its size. I secretly shook and squeezed that thing trying to figure out what it was. It turned out to be a music stand — to take away my excuses for not practicing the clarinet because it was too hard to read the music from the bed. Useful? Yes. Cool? Hardly.
One year, mom made a dozen or so outfits for my Barbie doll. Tiny, beautiful clothes in exotic designs with perfect hems and stylish accents. She must have spent hours squinting at those things. I have one or two pieces still.
Another year, after my dad had lost his job and we were in a hard spot, Christmas was going to be rather thin. It would have weighed heavily on mom and dad. That was the year we received a blessing from the local Kiwanis Club. Christmas gifts for my brother and myself. There were probably items for mom and dad as well as a food basket, I don’t really remember.
I do know the yellow Barbie camper tent, with yellow sports car that came with it was magical. A tiny campfire grate, plastic pans and plates, even sleeping bags made that gift the best thing ever. The car has black decals that were carefully applied to make the car look “just like the real thing!” I was besotted and thought I had hit the jackpot with that one perfect toy.
The day after Christmas, our neighbors came over to check out our toys and to tell us how much better their Christmas was. Their family was better off than ours and the brother/sister duo made certain we understood that in the playground pecking order.
They made sure we were aware of the superiority of their haul, but we also knew their stuff didn’t last long because they didn’t take care of their toys. When the boy came over to see what I was playing with, he wanted to see the car. I was protective of this beautiful yellow car with black decals and tried to keep it away from him. A tug of war ensued and he (probably) accidently ripped out the steering wheel of the car.
For a moment, I was simply aghast, staring in horror as he laughed while dangling that steering wheel out of my reach. Despite being the season of love, fury filled me and I did the first thing that came to my mind. I dropped kicked him as hard as I could.
While I was able to retrieve the steering wheel; I wound up not being allowed to play with that camper for a whole week. It was pure torture. However, I loved that set, so much so, I still have it. The sleeping bags and pans are long gone, but the camper and car are still in the original box, tucked underneath my bed.
It represents some of my favorite memories; the kindness of strangers, hours of imaginative play and the first time I stood up to a bully. In some ways it really was the perfect gift.
Written and submitted by Sarah Roush for The Circleville Herald. The views of this column may not necessarily reflect that of the newspaper.