Perfect presents not always under tree
Christmas night and all is calm and still bright, with lights twinkling on houses all over Eudora, as the Christmas season continues until Epiphany when the wise men arrive.
Gazing into the darkness outside my window, I think of all the tired children now slumbering in their beds. The visions of "sugar plums dancing in their heads" giving way to sugar-induced exhaustion and finally sleep. As I stare into the darkness lit only by the twinkling of my own Christmas lights, I think of Christmas past and wonder about all of the unfilled expectations and dreams of the children and the now grown up children on Christmas night.
When I was about 8, I dreamed of a particular ring I saw in a jewelry store window. With my nose pressed flat against the cold windowpane of the store, I fantasized about what it would be like to have one of those very small boxes from the jeweler on or under my tree on Christmas Eve.
Making not very subtle hints to my parents for about six weeks before Christmas, I never thought I would get such a gift because I wasn't really sure if Santa still brought gifts or if parents brought them and placed them under the tree that was put up on Christmas Eve. Because my birthday is also on Christmas, I had reason to believe I would get one nice gift but surely not the coveted ring I really wanted.
On Christmas Eve staring through the second floor transom of my grandmother's house where we were living at the time, I spied my parents decorating the tree and my grandmother finishing the angel food cake I received (from scratch) every birthday. My eavesdropping also included the conversation of the adults, which consisted of whether or not I still believed in Santa. Thinking that I wasn't sure there was a Santa and knowing that gifts from the jewelry store didn't usually make it to my house, I sighed and went to bed thinking of the warm scarf and socks and maybe new wool "leggings" I might receive instead of a frivolous gift like a ring.
Next morning I didn't rush to the tree but instead "moseyed" around the kitchen taking in the wonderful smells of a Christmas turkey and fresh-baked pumpkin pie. With no prompting, I finally found myself by the tree staring at a very small jeweler's box on the tree placed at just my eye level. Hard to believe it could be for me -- but it was.
With my Dad looking on, I unwrapped the box that was wrapped in paper with silver stars, and found a small gold ring set with a light green stone. I was wishing for my birthstone that was aquamarine, but looking at that ring and knowing how difficult it may have been for my Dad to purchase it, I felt the warmth of a dream come true.
That ring had a home in my jewelry box for many years after it was outgrown until one day my own girls sneaked it out of the box, and it was lost on Pomona's main street.
I still remember with great clarity the Christmas of the ring and the rush feeling it still brings to mind and heart each year during this season.
Asking others their fondest Christmas wish -- fulfilled our unfulfilled, I got a number of answers very quickly, which proves how intense the expectation of a particular Christmas gift is for all children.
One gentleman in his 70s remembered the Christmas of 1935 when he was so sure he would receive a bike only to unwrap a fountain pen on Christmas Day. In later years, he knew that was all his parents could afford during the Great Depression of the 1930s.
Another story that has been passed down through three generations in a family is that of a woman, now deceased, whose belief in Santa came to an abrupt halt while she was rummaging around in a hall closet and came across a hidden fur muff that was to have been delivered by Santa.
One especially poignant story was that of a woman who as a young girl lost her Scottie dog. She remembered asking either God or Santa to please bring him back only to awake on Christmas to find that neither had made good on her wish or her prayer.
Anna Quindlen in her book "Loud and Clear" remembers the year her son asked specifically for a "Mighty Morphin Power Ranger," which she writes was a "need more profound than the need for food or water."
She describes her pursuit for the particular ranger through malls and toy stores only to be a bit behind each shipment, which had just been sold out.
A few days before Christmas she had given up ever grabbing the coveted toy, but her son exclaimed he was convinced Santa was indeed alive and well and that he would spend all Christmas morning playing with his Mighty Morphin Power Ranger, so she set out again one more time for the mall.
To those whose Christmas wish was fulfilled this year, you are truly blessed, so sit and be quiet. If you are one of those that couldn't remember or one of those that was "always happy with what they got" (yeah, right) you need to get honest. If you are one that is still moping around the house because Santa wasn't able to deliver just the perfect gift, well then, perk up -- he's got 365 days until next Christmas to get it right.