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.
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:
- 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.
- Advent Calendar Christmas Memories 2009
- Treasure Chest Thursday