This column is written from my memories. All the stories here took place between my birth in 1967 and my sophomore year of high school in 1983. At the time they were disappointments. I didn’t realize that by not getting the gifts I requested an even bigger gift was being given to me each time. I had a conversation with my Grandmother who is the gift giver in this article. During our conversation we talked about these let-downs with humor. Then she stunned me with her logic behind her decisions. Now I look back with a smile at the gifts that somehow missed the mark and with eyes that have been opened to see what I was really given, and what I was given, money cannot buy.
Like all kids every year, the thought of Christmas gifts was so exciting! I would have my list made up weeks in advance with visions of what a magical Christmas it was going to be. Most of the time it really was, then at other times I was left scratching my head in confusion at the item I had just torn the colorful wrapping paper off of. This column is bittersweet in that as a child my heart sometimes fell, yet after talking to Grandma before I wrote this column, I can really smile at the memories and sometimes even laugh out loud. They were indeed very special gifts that I was not aware of at that time, and until now did not even know about. Let’s take a walk down memory lane as I recall some of the most disappointing gifts I ever received and the incredible gifts I was really given. Keep in mind as you read this that although my Grandmother never went to school beyond 8th grade. She is a highly intelligent woman who gathered her knowledge from reading and life as she lived it.
One of the things I wanted as a child was a Barbie. She had beautiful clothes and neat accessories (in fashion colors mind you) I wanted to dress her and have fantasies using her to play it out. She could roller skate, drive, ski, I think she could even convert Windows to Mac. She was the doll fantasies were made of yet every year no Barbie under the tree. Then one year there was a Barbie size box under the tree and I got so excited. This was going to be the year. I couldn’t wait to go shopping to buy her a wardrobe of fabulous outfits. When I opened the gift I was stunned into dead silence. It was a doll and I thought to myself “Who the hell is that and what is she doing under this tree?”
It was indeed a fashion doll but it sure as hell was not Barbie and the bitch did not have everything. It was a cheap knock-off with a horrid plastic body that did not bend at the joints. She did not have the fabulous hair, face or clothes. There was a lesson to be learned. It didn’t matter if it was a Barbie or not. It did not matter if everyone else had one or not. We are all different, why shouldn’t a doll be? Why did it have to be Barbie? This doll would fit in the same clothes and I would save my allowance if I wanted the doll to have those clothes. The point was it was a doll and she wanted to fire my imagination. In my imagination this doll could be just as beautiful as Barbie and do anything Barbie could do. She was trying to teach me that I did not have to be like everyone else and could do anything I wanted if I would just work hard enough at it. Be an individual and not a copy was the message here.
One of the greatest gifts my Grandma ever gave me was a love of reading and books. She started reading with me before I was even in school and by the time I was in 3rd or 4th grade I was reading novels (although I would have to ask Grandma to explain things I did not understand) There were certain books I asked for at a fairly young age. In 1976 is was “Carrie”. Another time it was “The Exorcist and in 8th grade (and don’t ask me where this title popped into my head because I couldn’t tell you) it was “Lady Chatterley’s Lover”. None of these books were ever a gift.
What I asked for:
What I got:
Again Grandma had a plan. She knew that I loved books that were well beyond my years. However she deemed these a bit inappropriate for my age at the time I asked for them. She told me that she decided that if I really, really wanted those books I would save or earn the money to get them myself, then when I sat down to read them, the experience would be so much sweeter because I earned those books. I did it on my own. She was right again of course, and as a bonus I fell in love with the writing of Erma Bombeck.
Music was something else that I loved and in this respect I was really weird compared to other kids my age. I loved movie soundtracks and classical music more than any other types at the time and could have run a radio station out of my collection. Although I loved those two types of music (and Grandma never denied these to me) there was music and artists that were very popular in the day whom I also wished to add to my collection. Respectively here are some titles I asked for because I really enjoyed the artists or the music style.
What I asked for:
What I got:
Again Grandma was teaching me something. She knew what kind of music I listened to but she wanted me to know that there was a whole world of music I had not yet experienced and if I gave it a try I might find out that I liked it. Grandma was always very big on my trying out new things and having new experiences and I am so glad that she was. Now my music taste is very eclectic. I enjoy all kinds of music from every era. My music collection ranges from The Andrew Sisters to Eartha Kitt to Carrie Underwood to Pink. I still love my movie soundtracks and classical with a healthy mix of everything else wedged in between. Just to show me that she did know the kinds of music I like one year this album ended up under the tree. You kick ass Grandma!
I could go on into countless other gift types and situations but I will stop here. I wrote this for my Grandmother and will have to mail her a copy because she has no computer. This beautiful woman adopted me as an infant and gave me a life I would never have otherwise. She taught me to love life and new experiences. She was generous and denied me very little and many times when she did it was to teach me something that I could use for the rest of my life. As I was getting to be into my teens it was obvious I was a bit different than the rest of the family and as hard as it was, she stepped back and let me find my own way. This is my way of saying that the lessons took and I love you very much. Merry Christmas Grandma, I can never repay the beautiful gifts you have given me throughout my life.
I want to say Thank you to Jennette for offering me the chance to voice my opinions on this website and offering me a place to share my writing. I want to thank my fellow writers whose voices collectively make this a website that is diverse in voice and ideas. I want to thank our IT Dept for keeping it all together (especially when it turns out that I know less than I thought getting these columns online) and I want to thank my husband Scott for being supportive of my endeavors in my writing. I couldn’t ask for a better man. I especially want to thank each and every one of you for reading my columns. It means more to me than you will ever know and I hope you enjoy what I have to say. Now I want you to have a wonderful Holiday Season and a safe and happy New Year. I look forward to the year ahead and I hope you do too!
Happy Holidays from us to you!
Scott & Alexandra xoxo