Christmas Present Memories

20121218-204128.jpgThis comic that I saw in yesterday’s Virginian Pilot newspaper triggered memories of Christmas presents I’ve gotten as well as given. When I was a youngster, I don’t remember having long lists of items I wanted to show up under our Christmas tree. I was happy for whatever my parents picked out. There was this one time, though, when I was either in eighth grade or just beginning high school that I wanted a tennis sweater. For those of you uninitiated, tennis sweaters were once the rage. They were usually white or cream cable-knit V-necked pullovers which featured two bands of color, one blue and one red, around the neck, sleeves and bottom. They were very preppy. You didn’t even need to have ever held a tennis raquet to own one. I had seen a tennis sweater in the window of the department store in the center of town as I walked home from school one day. I wanted that sweater. I lusted after that sweater. Since I was not one to ask my parents for anything specific, they knew I was serious when I told them I really, really, really wanted that sweater. And yes, they did buy it for me, and yes, I did look quite the prep.

Giving presents was as exciting for me as getting them. I always put a lot of thought into my presents. One year I saved for months to buy my big brother an ice hockey stick. He was an excellent skater and played hockey with his high school buddies on the many frozen ponds in our town in the winter. I knew he would love a brand new hockey stick instead of the beat-up one he was using. I saved and saved my allowance and couldn’t wait to see his face on Christmas morning when I gave it to him. That was the Christmas he gave me a little wooden pig about the size of an acorn. I wonder if he contemplated what my face would look like when he gave it to me.

Thinking of my brother triggers another gift-giving incident the first Christmas I was married. My husband and I were living in the tiny town of Storrs, Connecticut where my husband was a police officer at the university. My brother was in graduate school there at the time. I had found the most gorgeous chess table in a shop there. It was Russian and when you opened it up, it played Lara’s theme from Dr. Zhivago. Even though it was very expensive and cost much more than I had intended to spend, it was such an amazing find and one that I knew my husband would love, so I bought it.

The problem was I had to figure out how to get it down to Fairfield, Connecticut, where we were spending the holidays with our parents, without my husband seeing it. No problem. I would just give it to my brother and he could bring it when he came. Now picture this. I am in church at the eleven P.M. candlelight Christmas Eve service.  My husband is sitting on one side of me and my parents are on the other. My brother is on the far side of my parents. I’m having a hard time staying focused on the service because I can’t wait until Christmas morning when I would give my new hubby that beautiful chess table. I look over at my brother and he has a note for me. He passes it down, and I read, “I forgot the chess table back in Storrs. Sorry.” Now I know why he positioned himself so far away from me. So I couldn’t kill him.

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About Coming East

I am a writer, wife, mother, and grandmother who thinks you're never too old until you're dead. My inspiration is Grandma Moses who became a successful artist in her late 70's. If I don't do something pretty soon, though, I'll have to find someone older for inspiration.
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26 Responses to Christmas Present Memories

  1. pattisj says:

    Love this story, Susan.

  2. Michael Snow says:

    I still have one of those Old Spice gift sets…just never use cologne. But my favorite memory is of the pedlal, IH tractor that my grandfatther gave to us once-upon-a-time. I still have it.

  3. lentomoderato says:

    You write the most beautiful narrative! It truly helps with putting one in the Christmas spirit of loving and (playfully) elbowing siblings. By any chance have you ever read Arleta Richardson? Your comfy and humorous style reminds me of her writing.

  4. notquiteold says:

    I think I got my tennis sweater the same year you did. I was so cool I almost took up tennis.

  5. Al says:

    Having met your brother and finding out what a nice guy he is, I’m really glad you didn’t kill him. I can’t imagine the self-restraint that must have taken.

  6. You sound like my daughter and my son. My daughter always puts so much thought into her gifts and well, you already know. I will have to give props to your brother for not only the seating arrangements, but waiting until you were in church…well played indeed. He is lucky to have you!

    • Coming East says:

      Yes, wasn’t waiting until we were in church to tell me the news very clever of him, Life? He’s really a good brother, though, as far as brothers go. I’m lucky to have him.

  7. great story! what would we do without old spice? daf

  8. I would like to see a picture of that pig. You should have known better than to ask a brother for help like that. Christmas shopping just doesn’t have the same importance to men. (I have 3 brother, 2 sons, 2 sons-in-laws, a husband. Some things are universal. At least my experience tells me so. That said, laughter really is the best medicine.

  9. winsomebella says:

    I am laughing at your comment saying you substituted with the Alspice gift set 🙂

  10. Margie says:

    Your story about the sweater reminded me of the year that navy blue ski jackets were all the rage in not just my High School, but the whole city. I’ve always wondered how these fashion trends got started back in the days before teenagers had cars or cell phones or internet.

  11. Dianna says:

    What a story. I’m sure you were devastated at the time, but you’ve probably chuckled about it many times since then!

    • Coming East says:

      Yes, Dianna, I started to cry in church. My dad took me to an all-night drug store so I could at least have something under the tree for my honey. All we could find was an Old Spice gift set, so I bought him that. We were laughing about it by Christmas morning. It’s impossible to stay mad at my brother. He really is a sweetie.

  12. Mark says:

    Apparently I’m still in trouble.

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