The Worst Christmas Ever!

The Worst Christmas Ever! 22 December 2010

It was Christmas morning. Best I can recall it was 1958 or ’59, so I must have just turned seven or eight. For the past few years I’d asked for and gotten a new gun and holster set, plus a few rolls of caps to make the cap pistol go bang!bang! Brother Jimmy, a year younger, got the same thing. And this Christmas brother Don would, too. Oh the joy of finding Santy’s reliable presents every year!

The three of us always went to bed together in the “big bed” every Christmas Eve and slept a scant few hours, but only ’cause we had to; otherwise Santy Claus wouldn’t come. We kept that tradition for many more years. We’d wake up sometime around three in the morning and then run into the living room for whatever expected and unexpected surprises were to be found laid out under the tree and around the room. This year was no different, or so it seemed until my wee-houred discovery:

No gun and holster set and rolls of caps for me. Just two sets for the boys and a, a – I can hardly stand to say it – a doll. It/she was a skinny thing standing in the middle of the floor, about nine inches tall and clad in a drab plaid wool dress and cape and, can you believe it? clasping a one-dollar bill in her upright right hand between her thumb and index finger. Skin and bones only, meant to be elegant (maybe), there was nothing huggable or comforting about her. This lone, pitiful thing was just standing there in the middle of the floor apart from all the rest of the gifts with her proud piece of paper money to be sure she was noticed.

She was noticed alright! I was aghast at this monster. What was it doing here? Who was it for? How could Santy have left such a foreign object at our house? And where was my gun and holster set?

Well! (as Jack Benny would have intoned)

Well, hell! Somebody had decided that I needed something different that year. And that meant somebody decided that I needed to be different, not just that year but for all time. But I wasn’t different! I was me! I literally spent the rest of the day looking for my gun and holster under and behind everything, everywhere, inside and outside. I kept thinking somebody would finally say something like, “Surprise! Here it is!” Or would at least understand what a terrible mistake had been made. And maybe they did decide so by suppertime after seeing me climb up and dive down all day and always coming up empty handed. I imagine that my parents probably felt pretty terrible about the whole thing. And rightly so!

I’d made it clear since my earliest expressions that I didn’t like dolls, didn’t want dolls, and wouldn’t play with dolls. I did like the nurse’s uniform I got one Christmas. But nothing compared to my cowgirl boots and hat and my gun and holster. I had no words at the time to express how I felt, which was betrayed. And that dollar bill??? It was an insult, a really stupid attempt to buy me off.

I learned some things that Christmas Day – that my western play days were suddenly supposed to just be over and done with, just plain gone, and that I was supposed to learn to like something I didn’t like just because I was a girl. And I also learned that day that who I am wasn’t “right” or “good” enough anymore. It’s taken a lifetime to unlearn that one. (The residue is still with me, in spite of truly knowing that I am completely good and right enough.) Many, many lovely Christmases have come and gone since that year. And I certainly no longer hold any judgment about my parents, who always did the best they could and wanted the best for me. But holy moly, this was the worst Christmas ever!

© Amy Pierce and In Spiritual Wonder, 2010. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Amy Pierce and In Spiritual Wonder with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.