David's Reformed Church Congregation

David's Reformed Church Congregation
Congregation of David's Reformed Church, Montgomery Co, Ohio, Circa, 1900

Friday, December 10, 2010

Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories - December 10 - Christmas Gifts

I am using today's Advent Calendar post about Christmas gifts to defend myself.  For many years, my family has been espousing the fact that I was a spoiled brat as a child based upon an incident that was filmed on Christmas Day, 1965.  The problem with the film is that it doesn't tell the entire story, which is what I intend to do now. 

I was 3 years old.  We had just had a joyous Christmas Eve with my mother's side of the family, followed by a Christmas morning on which I had received a treasure trove of gifts from both Santa Claus and my parents.  I must have really liked "Mary Poppins" because I received not only a doll in her image, but also her signature umbrella and traveling bag.  But for me, like it is for many children, a majority of the fun of receiving a gift was being handed a beautifully wrapped surprise and guessing what it could be.  The anticipation surrounding the moment when we would "tear into the paper" and discover something new and wonderful was as important as the gift itself.  So, on that Christmas morning, even as I was opening those presents under our tree, I was telling myself that even when I had finished opening all these presents, I still had ONE more present to open at my grandma's house in Sabina.  After my brothers and I packed up a couple of our favorite new presents to take along with us, we headed to Grandma's house.  After a torturously long wait, (was it REALLY important to eat lunch before we opened presents?) it was finally time......
All of the presents surrounded a small Christmas tree in one of Grandma's bedrooms in her tiny house.  As all of the kids ran into the room, my aunt and my grandmother started reading the tags and handing out the gifts. As each present was given out, my excitement was building. - Where was mine?  My brothers and my cousins were ripping into their gifts, wrapping paper flying in all directions. Suddenly, it was my turn! And there was my present.....
Sitting on the floor....
Under the tree.......
Was a doll in a box.....
Just sitting there....doing nothing.

The unwrapped doll

It wasn't even a doll I recognized.  And she was sitting there in a naked box.  No bows.  No paper to tear. No surprise.

Now, had I been 10, or maybe even 6 or 7, I could have been gracious and said , "Oh, thank you, Grandma. She's beautiful".  But I was 3 years old and I was heartbroken.  I didn't want to cry, so my disappointment came out by tantrum.  Dad's movie camera caught me standing with my arms crossed, shaking my head "no" as my grandma stood on the other side of the room showing me the doll in her box, while my mother stands behind me trying to convince me to take the wonderful present. 

 They just didn't understand.  It wasn't that I didn't like the doll. (as a matter of fact, there is later footage showing me giving the doll a bottle)  I was that I had been looking forward to having a present to open.  That was part of the fun and I didn't get to do that.  To this day, I don't know and I never will know, why Grandma chose to keep the gift unwrapped.  It could be that she got it too late to wrap it, or maybe she even ran out of paper before she got to it. (Remember, these were the days when stores closed early on Christmas Eve.) Whatever the case, the present wasn't wrapped and it caused me to make a scene that still lives in our family lore.
So, to keep the record straight for posterity, I wasn't a spoiled brat......really I wasn't.  And, I promise to always make the presentation of the gift as important as the present itself.
By the way, I love you, Grandma! :)

                                                 After I got over my disappointment!


  1. Great story! And I understand your disappointment. For my family, a-n-t-i-c-i-p-a-t-i-o-n is all.

  2. In addition to telling this story, it is amazing to me that you still remember it! And to think you learned a lesson at that age, that is to be sure to wrap the gifts, esp. for a child. Very nice.