During the holiday season, I can’t help but look back at those special surprises that made Christmas Day so special. There have been many. I suppose like a lot of us, it’s easy to reflect on the “magical” gifts of our childhood that seemed so awesome, but there have been a few along the line that happened when I was older, or presents that weren’t for me at all (but rather, I was in on the surprise.) So here are five of my favorite Christmas gifts over the years!
The Speigle Doll: I honestly don’t remember if this doll even had a name, but I remember the day I saw her and her layette in the Speigle catalogue my mother brought home from work. She was a whopping $30 but I knew THAT was the doll I had to have for Christmas. The production my mother went to in order to hide that doll from me was truly remarkable. She placed the box under the tree and cleverly marked the tag with a “?” so that no one in the family knew who the present was for. (Turns out, I was the only one not in the loop on this!) Finally on Christmas morning, my father handed my mother the box to unwrap, causing me to jump up and say “It’s really for HER???” (I’m slightly embarrassed by the fact that I was that greedy about the whole thing, but I can’t help wondering if they goaded me to the point that I was half crazy about the mystery box.) My father turned to me, lifted the present off of my mother’s lap and said, “Well, why don’t you open it and find out.” It remains one of my favorite holiday moments.
The microwave oven: Yes, kiddies…once upon a time not every home came with a microwave oven and the purchase of one was on par with today’s 3D Smart TVs. I remember the year my father decided to by my mom the microwave and rather than wrap the appliance, he would buy her a special “microwave only” dish and wrap that instead. For whatever reason, he took me along with him to Target to buy this dish, and because I knew we didn’t have a microwave, I kept complaining that it was the wrong thing to buy Mom. (I was a bit slow on the uptake.) Finally, I caught on to what he was doing and I distinctly remember him threatening me with DEATH if I so much as breathed a word about it to my mom. Despite the possible mental abuse of that particular season, I LOVED being part of such a big secret!
My Electric Guitar: I was 15, had been playing for a couple of years and my folks decided that it was time for an upgrade. Unfortunately, holiday bonuses did not come in and my dream of that gorgeous black Washburn was on the back burner for the time being…or so I thought. Little did I know that my parents had already purchased the axe and had hidden it at my grandmother’s house so that there was no chance I would stumble upon it before Dec. 25. My mother also claimed that she still had “lots” of my presents to wrap and went so far as to have me fetch boxes from the attic, which still sat empty on the wrapping table on Christmas Eve. I assumed my mother was simply behind in her holiday chores…but it all became clear when I saw that burgundy gig bag propped up by the TV on Christmas morning and realized that my new guitar was hiding inside! Well played! (And I am NOT easy to surprise…ask anyone!)
Follow the Monsters book: Yes, a paperback Sesame Street book may seem like an odd gift to make this list, but in 1990, my mother gave a copy of this book to my oldest son and it became a fast favorite. He loved this book so much that anyone who walked in the door had to do a mandatory reading and the thing eventually fell apart from love. (It didn’t really matter, we all had it memorized anyway.) Two years ago, my son (who was 22 at the time) surprised me by giving a new copy to me at Christmas and insisted that I read it to him. Trust me, the boy can be a goober at times…but when he gets it right, he knocks it out of the park!
The Diamond Necklace: Again, this was not for me, but my mother. I don’t know how I got mixed up in this one, but yet again-I was on some errand with my father that took a weird turn when he started looking at diamond necklaces for my mother. After two jewelry stores, I finally got him to cop to the fact that he was planning a pretty big surprise for my mom and that if I dared to mention anything….well, you can figure out the rest. Honestly, I learned more about diamonds in that one afternoon than I ever needed to know. Though my mom was not a “jewelry” person, she seemed to like the pendant and I was proud to have played some small part in the surprise….In 2005, my mother gave me the necklace when I graduated college. She told me that she had something for me from my father, and when I opened the box, I knew she was right. she said “You were with him when he bought it, so you know he used his own money for it and I want to see you enjoy it before it becomes yours eventually.” Hands down, one of the best gifts ever.