My Most Memorable Christmas

(True story of my childhood Christmas)

My most memorable Christmas is not one of good memories, but of regret. One of those things we do that we wish all our lives we can undo. Wishing everyday, from that year, that day, for many years, that I could undo. What every child does, or wants to do every year at Christmas time.  My Mother always loved to say, be sure your sins will find you out. Well they sure found me out!

I do still wish I could change what I did, but one thing for sure, it taught me a valuable lesson. I was grown and had children of my own, before I shared my secret with Mother.

Like every child 11 years old, I wanted so bad to know what Mom and Dad were getting me for Christmas. We did not have much money, but Mother always tried to make us happy in what we could afford. The one thing I wanted most at the time, was a watch. Everyone in my 6th grade class had a watch. But I knew that I probably wouldn't get one, because they were quite expensive at the time.

After returning from shopping one Saturday, Mother just seemed more pleased with herself than usual. Being one who analyzes everything and everyone, I just knew then that the gifts she picked up that day were sure to please us when we opened them.

I remember looking all over the house when Mother went to work, and my older sister was left in charge. Where would she hide the gifts where no one would be able to find them? Well the one place for sure we couldn't find them would be on top of the wardrobe in Mom and Dad's room. It was so big, and so tall. No way could we get up there and find them. At least I am sure that is what she thought. Oh but I had a way. I thought, how can I get up there and see if those gifts were up there. Ahhh, I could pile something on a chair and climb on top of it! I was a good climber. Once I get up close enough, I could pull myself up. Well sure enough, there they were! And I was so delighted to see that there was indeed a watch up there! I held the box tightly so I could climb down. Once I got my treasured watch down safely, I opened the case and took out the watch. What a beauty! A Timex with a really nice leather band. Oh, how pretty it was! There was only one problem. It wasn't wound up. I just had to see that second hand twirl around. I wanted to hear that tick, tick, tick. So I found the stem and wound it, and wound it. Then as I was winding it for the last round, I felt it snap. Oh no! It just can't be! My heart sank. I felt that hot flush come across my face. That just can't happen! Not to this beautiful watch I waited so long for and climbed so high to get!

(Back then they didn't have watches with batteries, they had watches with stems that really had to be wound every day. If you didn't wind them, they would stop ticking after a day or so.)

Oh my heart was just as broken as that stem. How do I fix this mess I got myself into now? So with a broken heart, and a broken watch, I climbed back up, and put the watch back exactly as I had found it.

With Christmas 2 weeks away, I had many days and nights to feel the pain of my deed. Knowing that Christmas morning, I was going to open up the box that held my broken watch. How could I explain that one?

Well I just decided I wouldn't explain it at all. I would just open the gift and pretend I am excited, and Mama would just have to return it and tell them that it was broken. Then I could have that beautiful Timex watch I always wanted.

That's exactly what I did. And just as I planned it, when I tried to wind that watch and told Mama it was broken, she assured me that as soon as the stores opened the next day, we would get another one.

Whew, I got out of that one! All's well that ends well huh? The only problem was, it didn't end so well for me. Oh we went to the store to get another one alright. It was a snowy, bitter cold day outside. But you know Mama, she had to try to make me happy. So we bundle up, and got out in the old Chevy and head into town. We pulled up to the drug store where Mama bought my watch,  and of course Mama expected me to come in with her. Well I couldn't do that. For surely, if I went in, they would figure out that I tried that watch on and broke it. So I just told Mama to go ahead and go in, I wanted to wait in the car and watch the snow.

I waited out in the cold car, watching the snow fall. I waited for what seemed an eternity for Mama to return. I imagined them in there telling Mama that they weren't going to replace that watch, because it was not broke when she got it, that the kid had to be the one that broke it! Finally she came out of the store carrying a bag. Oh yes, now everything was going to be fine. New watch, no problem. My secret was safe.

Well my secret was safe alright, but when Mama opened the bag and took out the watch, it was the most horrible moment in my life! Here again, I feel my face flush and my heart drops to the pit of my stomach. I'm not feeling so good right now. What she pulled out of that bag was a Cinderella watch. Now I am 11 years old, and in the 6th grade! Back then, if you wore a Cinderella watch past 4th grade, you were the laughing stock of the school!

Well Mama explained that they didn't have another one like the one she bought me, so she picked me out a really nice one. She liked this one much better anyway. Oh right, real nice in her eyes! Easy for her to say! She is not the one that would be made fun of! But I couldn't hurt my Mama, so I just smiled and pretended like I really liked it. I really did like the Cinderella figurine that came with it though.

January third came entirely too soon that year. Here I was with a Cinderella watch that my Mama expected me to wear to school. I was not a happy camper. I just decided I wasn't gonna' wear that watch to school, I would just wear it when Mama was around.

Then came the dredged time to stand up in class and tell what we got for Christmas, I was just not real happy to stand up share my treasure. So I just said I got a watch and sat down. Well of course then the kids wanted to know where my watch was. By not wearing the watch, I really looked less than truthful to my class mates.

My little sister who was 4 years younger than me, just loved that watch. She thought it was just the most beautiful watch she ever seen! Mother thought she was too young for a watch. But I of course, thought she was just right. And that Cinderella watch was a perfect match for her. So letting Mother know that I just loved my little sister and wanted her to have my watch because it was so special to her.

She was just so excited! And I was excited for her! All her little friends thought it was just so cool that she had a watch. That was just a perfect solution to my embarrassing problem. No longer did I have to worry that my friends and classmates would see me wearing that watch. Whew!

Then the day came that changed my whole thinking about that watch. We were at the laundry mat, Mama, Sis and I. My little Sis went to the restroom and when she came back out, she wasn't wearing the watch. When I noticed it was not on her wrist, I ask where it was. Her mouth dropped open and she ran back to the restroom where she had taken it off to wash her hands. Gone in a flash was the watch I once so despised. It all of a sudden became a treasure. Never to be seen again. Someone obviously thought it a lovely thing to have, because everyone we ask, said they had not seen it.

How could someone just take a little kids watch like that? They had to know it belonged to us. Don't they know how special it was to my baby Sis? They had to have seen her come out of the restroom. And after all, we ask everyone in the laundry mat.

That watch I hated so much, now was one I desired to find or have returned. To this day, I still think about that little watch, and wish I could have it again. The watch my Mama worked so hard to pay for. The watch Mama spent her whole Saturday morning fighting snow and bitter cold, just to make sure I had that watch I so desperately wanted that Christmas. Cinderella watch anyone?

Author: Sheryl McMillan 12/2004

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