Isn’t it funny how your memory can pick and choose what is stored and what is thrown out for the buzzards to pick over? In a recent discussion, I was brave enough to admit what the most memorable Christmas gift of my childhood was. It seems absolutely ridiculous when you know that every five year old is getting the iPhone XXII from Santa. I’d like to think the gift that has stuck in my brain all of these years was considered the cutting edge of technology for its time. We weren’t a rich or frivolous family when I was young, but I always had goodies under the tree. I had stockings filled with candy and fruit. There were enough candy canes hung on our cedar tree to cover me until Easter came rolling around with its supply of sweets.
Before I reveal to you my MOST FAVORITE GIFT OF ALL TIME, I will share some others with you. My mother bought my sister and I a word processor in my teens. It was much like a computer’s little sister. It didn’t have the internet (but that was something we could access only at school anyway) and it didn’t have a slue of games. It did however give me the ability to type, type, type away! All day, all night! I tapped away! Click, click, click, click. After that purchase, I’m sure our light bill went up ten dollars a month. I was always letting my creativity rip!
I think it was before the word processor, there was the guitar. Oh how I wanted to be like Kurt Cobain! Sadly, I also needed a Ouija board so I could beg Kurt to embody me with his incredible musical talent. I could never get the hang of it and my thumbs and fingers would never quite callous up.
Now don’t you laugh, especially those of you who are getting your toddlers those iPhones. In 1993, my mom got a house phone for us. I’m not talking about just the phone. I mean the actual land line. It had been years since we had our own house phone. I remember calling Tracy Christmas morning. “We have a phone!” I had been feuding with Karen for months and my mom used the opportunity to hand Karen our new number. She called and we patched things up, all thanks to that Christmas phone.
The Christmas of 1991, I received my first copy of Gone With The Wind from mom. I spent most of my winter break up a holly tree in my grandparents’ woods reading that book. When you have a little sister, the only sanctuary you can find is somewhere she can’t climb.
No Christmas gift discussion could be complete without Max. See that super fuzzy stuffed puppy? I don’t actually remember receiving Max, but cut me some slack. I was barely a year old. As long as I can remember being alive, I can remember Max being with me. He was even known to frequent the classroom with me. Look how cute we were on picture day!
Thirty two Christmas seasons later, the two of us are still going strong. We’ve both had some wear and tear, but not much has changed.
Okay, is the suspense killing you? You want to know the most memorable gift of my childhood, yes?
Alright. Here it is.
An electric pencil sharpener. I’m sure my mother is screaming right now. All her hard work and money throughout my childhood and I remember that electric pencil sharpener the most.
We were renting an old farmhouse in Kiptopeke. I know our Christmas money could have been better spent on heating for that house that had no insulation. I remember coming down the stairs with my little sister and seeing all of the gifts! How exciting!
Santa did not wrap at our house. That was a helpful way to distinguish what was from your family and what was from the big jolly fellow. There were two piles of unwrapped gifts. I headed to mine with all the Christmas glee a child could possess. My hands were open, there was a smile on my face! I couldn’t wait to get my hands on that amazing pencil sharpener!
Somehow, my scrawny little sister beat me there and snatched it up. I’m sure she had no real interest in that magical electronic device. She just wanted it because I wanted it. It was clearly in my Santa pile!
“Mom! She took my present!”
I’d like to pride myself on not being a whiny child, but sometimes you have to pull such a stunt to get what is ‘writefully’ yours. I was ready to write pages and pages of stories! There was only one way to do that and that was with perfectly sharpened pencils! And that little brat had my pencil sharpener!
There may have been a brawl and I’m quite sure there was a lot of crying from my little sister. The electric pencil sharpener was returned to its rightful recipient (me! For God’s sake, didn’t my sister know I was destined to be a writer!)
Still to this day, I think there are very few finer things than a perfectly sharpened pencil. Do I love the way they feel? Yes, of course. However, I feel my love of them stems back to that Christmas when I received the most memorable gift of all.