It’s only Dec. 1, and already, the question has arrived ...
“What do you want for Christmas, Terri?”
I hear those words, and inevitably, my head begins to swim. What do I want for Christmas? The word, “Nothing,” usually floats out of my mouth without any thinking involved. Really ... I don’t need anything, and if I want something, I’ve probably already gone out and bought it ... short of that Mercedes convertible that dances in my head like a sugarplum of days gone by.
Needless to say, my Christmas list is far shorter than it was when I was a girl growing up on a farm north of Princeton. From the time the Sears Roebuck Wish Book arrived through Dec. 24, I’d add item after item to the list, which comprised several pages of a spiral-bound notebook. I’d also circle every item I thought I had to have in the catalogue. It was just what we did.
From the time I actually understood about Christmas and the gifts that would arrive, the word “PONY” always led the list. Yep ... I wanted a pony, and I knew I would get one. Every year after the Christmas stockings had been emptied, I’d find myself grabbing my winter coat and boots and slipping out of the old farmhouse by myself. I’d head straight to the barn, where I just knew that pony would be hiding ... It never was. Instead, the Etch-A-Sketch under the tree would have to do.
When I was about 8 or 9 and finally was smart enough to realize the pony wasn’t coming to Rural Route 2, Princeton, the first thing on my list changed to “MOCCASINS.” OK, I know that’s a bit nutty, but years ago, there was a Stuckey’s along the interstate in Peru, and we used to beg to stop there. Occasionally, Grandpa would pull the old, green Chevy into Stuckey’s, and I’d spend the whole time looking at their leather moccasins. It was a place in time when the word “Indian” was still politically correct, and for some reason, I felt like a pair of moccasins would be the perfect gift. Like the pony ... they never came, but the red rubber boots under the tree were probably much more appropriate for a kid who could find every puddle or snowbank in Bureau County.
Moccasins led my list until I was about 12, when all my friends were getting 10-speed bikes. “10 Speed” then topped my list, but it was ignored. After all, there was nothing wrong with that purple Stingray bike with the banana seat and the tall handlebars. Instead, I got new underwear, socks and gloves.
At the age of 15, I was too old to make a list, but I made my wish well known anyway. That coveted driver’s license was about to find its way into my purse, and I needed my own car. I told everyone and anyone who would listen ... clearly another pipe dream, yet on Christmas morning — not unlike the pony days, I’d find myself donning my winter coat and heading to the garage ... just knowing I’d find a car with a huge bow on top. All I found was our old car, a splash of oil on the garage floor which was dripping from the engine of the family vehicle, and a set of jumper cables.
As I look back, I can’t help but smile at my Christmas wishes. Like those sugarplums dancing in the heads of children across the nation at this time of year, I, too, believed those gifts would find their way into my world. But we were much too poor, much too practical for any of those presents. Underwear, games, socks, dolls ... but no pony, 10 speed, moccasins or new car for Terri.
Many years have passed since those pipe dream days, and as I consider an answer to that age old question of what I want for Christmas ... well, let’s just say I’ve grown up quite a bit. What I really want is good health for myself, my family and friends. I want time — lots of time — face time with those I love. I want smiles and laughter — generated by myself and seen/heard from family and friends. I don’t need anything with a bow or ribbon — I just need my family and friends next to me ... it’s as simple as that.
And just an FYI ... that pony, that 10 speed bike, and that new car eventually found their way to me (OK, I bought the car myself many years later, but nevertheless, I got one.) But as for those moccasins? Well, Mom ... I’m still waiting!
BCR Editor Terri Simon can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also follow her on Facebook at www.facebook.com/bcrnews.tsimon.