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Tuesday, 25 December 2007

The Christmas Present

By Darlene Costner of Darlene's Hodgepodge

We had just moved to Arizona and purchased a house that we really couldn't afford. We needed all the things that a new house requires. My husband, Wayne, had just started a new job we were living paycheck to paycheck. The job didn't pan out and my husband was out of work just before Christmas.

With two children (one who still believed in the largess of Santa Claus) it was a heart wrenching time. My son, who was twelve years old, had expressed a desire to have a portable radio for his Christmas. Of course our two year old daughter wanted everything she saw on TV.

We used the time honored plastic to buy a portable radio for our son and splurged on a record album of his favorite group. Our daughter had to be content with a basic Barbie and her car. Buying for each other was out of the question. My mother, with mother's intuition, had sent money with which we purchased a tree and the ingredients of Christmas dinner.

The tree looked pathetic with the few wrapped presents, but my father's latest wife had sent a large box that held hope for a more joyous Christmas.

On Christmas morning, I watched in horror as my son put on a brave face trying to show a joy that he didn't feel. We had purchased the wrong kind of radio. My daughter was perfectly happy with her doll so all was not lost. Then we opened our presents from my father and his wife.

My daughter's was a tiny stuffed bear suitable for an infant. My son received a cut glass cigarette box with the initial M for Mark on the lid. As Wayne and I opened our present, we doubled over in laughter at the sight of the ugliest lamp ever to grace a night stand. It was brown with holes up the side to allow the light to show through.

After dinner, Wayne and I sat at the kitchen counter with that horrible lamp in front of us. It looked like a big fat cigar. We laughed until tears came as we tried to figure out what it was supposed to be. At last, like a cartoon character, the light went on over my head . Between gales of laughter I said, "I know what it is; it's a space ship."

At the end of the day we traded with our son. We gave him the lamp and he gave us the cigarette box. We turned the box over and the M for Mark became a W for Wayne. A day of depression had turned into a day of laughter. My father never knew that his wife gave us the greatest gift of all.

Posted by Ronni Bennett at 02:30 AM | Permalink | Email this post

Comments

What a bitter sweet story this is. Did you ask your son whether he remembered this Christmas episode? Hoping you and your husband were able to make your children's dreams come true later on in their childhood.

You made lemonade out of THOSE lemons! A great story!

It's the memories that really last. Even the fanciest radio would be broken and out of date now. Some friends of ours were experiencing hard times and some family members and friends put together some gifts for them and brought them over in big green garbage bags. Sue (the mom) hid them in the garage until Christmas morning. Mike (the dad) cleaned out the garage as a gift for Sue, and the bags were hauled off to a dumpster somewhere, unopened. Sue could never tell her secret santas what had happened, and they had to pretend they loved the gifts, even though they didn't get any. That was their most fun Christmas ever. Even people close to the family love to remember it. The memories make the difference in the long run.

Travelinoma is right; the memories of when things went wrong are the ones that stick. Just like the trip when nothing went right is the one you talk about. Often the bad times provide an opportunity to discover what is truly important.

Yes, Lalia, when Mark was home on leave from the Navy his first Christmas after joining we talked about that Christmas and Mark said he felt bad for us because he knew how we felt. I'm sure we overcompensated in later years for that time when we were poor.

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