I have a few memorable gift stories connected to Christmas. Mostly they involved my parents telling me we couldn’t afford XYZ, and then it showing up on Christmas morning. Never did my mom and dad get more delight than the year they bought me my very own stereo. I had been hinting at this gift – ok, there were no hints, I had outright begged for a stereo for my room. I wanted to be able to listen to my music whenever and not have to use my moms stereo all the time. I wanted to be able to go to my room, shut the door and sing. I wanted to be able to fall asleep to the radio and wake up to the sounds of Don and Mike in the morning on WAVA (anyone remember them?)
So, I begged, and they kept mum on whether or not it would happen. Christmas morning, we sat around the tree and started to open gifts. I don’t remember anything about that year, except that the stereo was not under the tree. As we came to the end of the presents, it must have been showing on my face. Disappointment. I would never have said anything out loud…I had heard the story many years of how my parents would not be able to give us a big Christmas and I knew this probably meant they just couldn’t afford it. But it must have showed on my face pretty well.
So I was looking forlorn, and my dad asked me to go to the powder room for a box of tissues. I said “Dad, there is one right there on the table.” And he said “just go the bathroom like I asked.” I argued with him…”But Dad”… It never dawned on me there my be something in the bathroom better than the tissues.
The powder room is small – probably no bigger than 6’x4′ and when I opened the door, on the floor, was the stereo. Not wrapped, so it was easily visible, I screamed. There is was…the gift I had wanted. And I could hear my parents chuckling. My dad never let me live down that I had argued with him that morning about going to the bathroom for the tissues.
There are other years where there was a surprise gift under the tree – the Nintendo, the TV, the year my sister and I got bikes. But really, it was that stereo, that made the biggest impression. It was like validation that they got it…they were paying attention and they got me.