Engraved in My Mind

We’d been living in Long Beach, California for about three months when Christmas came in 1968.  I’d already made friends and was quite happy there.

I played outside in short sleeves and without a coat yet we had a fire going in the fireplace as though it was cold and my Christmas stocking hung on the mantel.   When the large packages arrived from my grandparents who lived in Oklahoma, I could not resist and I secretly and carefully opened them one day. What to my wondering eyes should appear?  An off brand of Lite Brite and a Singin’ Chatty doll, almost like the specific Lite Brite and Chatty Cathy I’d put on my list.

It was only after I opened the presents that I realized that I would have to pretend that I didn’t know what my gifts were plus wait to play with them.  I was somewhat disappointed that the items were not exactly the brand and version I’d asked for but my real concern was that I just realized that what I did was very dishonest.  I hated the fact that I opened the gifts, I was embarrassed, and desperately wished I had not done it.

That Christmas Eve, before we opened our gifts, Mom fixed my hair all poofy at the crown, a nice style for that time period.  I put on my black velvet shorts outfit with white, lace trim across the shirt and around each leg that Mom made for me the year before.  The entire time I was getting dressed I practiced in my mind how to act surprised by my gifts.  But all my planning didn’t work, my parents knew, and now my embarrassing secret was known.

I got a lot of great gifts that year in addition to the Lite Brite and Singin’ Chatty.  I got a negligee otherwise known as a baby doll nightgown with matching bottoms; a red, white and yellow snake made out of soft plastic (which is a story by itself); and pictures to be framed for my wall.  And another gift, a very special one.  It was a silver bracelet with a charm that had my name engraved on it.  It was beautiful, not a child’s toy, and so grown up.  I was overwhelmed with my Christmas gifts and I cried when I saw the charm.  At that moment Dad captured my joy in a photo as I leaned in Mom’s lap and she consoled me.  There were other nice photos from that night but this one also shows the Singin’ Chatty Cathy doll, the gift I opened early, sitting in the background on our stereo.

Kay and her Mom, 1968

I still have that charm with my name engraved on it.   My family moved a lot but somehow, even as a child, I knew the importance of keeping certain things.  That charm now hangs on a different bracelet with newer charms.  Every time I see it I’m reminded of that Christmas when I was 8 years old.

This post fulfills my submission for:

  1. Smile for the Camera. The word prompt for the 19th Edition of Smile For The Camera is “Gift.” It is the holiday season and a time for giving. So give Smile readers the gift of sharing, sharing a family photograph. It can be a gift given or received, it can be the gift of talent, it can be the gift of having the photograph itself. The interpretation of gift is yours.
  2. Advent Calendar Christmas Memories 2009
  3. Treasure Chest Thursday