Sitting here wrapping gifts for my son, I am taken back to a Christmas when I was his age. Times back then were so different. We didn’t get so many gifts that we grew tired from opening them. We only got one thing for Christmas…if we were lucky. There were some Christmas mornings where the gifts were very small. You see, times in rural Newfoundland were very tough when I was a kid. My parents worked hard just to make ends meet.
I remember that Christmas morning. I had wrote Santa asking for a race car set. Well, it wasn’t totally my idea. My dad wanted me to get a race car set. He talked me out of the ‘Squirming Herman’ toy I asked for, explaining that a real boy needs to have a race car set. I went along with him. Mom used to give him that ‘look’ whenever he spoke of the gift, reminding him of who it was for. He would just laugh and go on with whatever he was doing while mom shook her head with the ever familiar ‘tsk tsk’ that drove him crazy.
“I hear you get a Corvette and a Ferrari with the race set. My buddy is into cars and he says that it can provide hours of fun” said my dad. He was more excited than I was. “But Dad, the kids at school are getting cool stuff like klickety klackers (Two hard plastic balls on a string, joined at the top with a metal ring. You held the ring and clacked the balls together and it made a neat noise.) Dad refused to let me get that toy, saying that some kid is going to kill another with that someday. He wasn’t far from the truth, as the toy was later taken off the market because some kid somewhere did kill another kid with the toy. My dad wasn’t a dumb man, still isn’t.
Well, on Christmas morning, I couldn’t sleep a bit. As I lay in my bed I could swear that I could hear cars revving and running, but I figured it was just my imagination getting the best of me. I wouldn’t dare get up, for fear that if Santa caught me, he would leave before dropping off my gifts. Dad said that if Santa caught me up, he wouldn’t come back ever. So I stayed in bed and eventually fell asleep.
The next morning, I was anxious to see what Santa brought. After dumping out my stocking to find the usual, fresh fruit (even grapes, which we never got throughout the year), I found my race car set already set up on the living room floor. My dad and our neighbour were sitting on the floor with each a screwdriver, working on MY yellow Corvette. “What’s wrong with my car, Dad” I asked.
“Not sure, it worked perfect all night!” he said.
“All night? How do you know? Who was using it?” I asked
“Well, Santa always tries toys before leaving them in a child’s home. He left me a note saying that he couldn’t get the yellow one to keep racing. He left me instructions to fix it.” My dad lied.
I may have been eleven, but I was no fool. I knew that dad was up just after Santa left, and that he and our neighbour wore my car out before I got a chance to play with it. I knew, but I didn’t say anything. I didn’t want to ruin my dad’s Christmas.
Dad told stories of when he was a boy. They didn’t get anything like this for Christmas. They got socks and mitts that their mom knitted, or snowshoes that their dad made, but not every year. I guess that’s why my dad was so excited about the race car set.
Eventually my dad got the race car working. When that happened, he and I sat and played until the little metallic runners under the car wore out. That took the entire day. What fun!
Now, as a dad, I get the chance to play with my son’s toys on Christmas morning. Only a few more sleeps!