Monday, December 13, 2010
I remember being a teenager living in Switzerland and wanting to be more of an active participant in Christmas. I wanted to give, the way my parents did. Two years in a row, I wanted to really go all out at Christmastime. The first year I decided I wanted to really make people in the family believe that there was a Santa Claus. So I saved all my allowance money during the year and spent it on extra gifts for the family; not the ones that were wrapped and said To Mommy From Stephen on the outside... I had secret gifts from Santa.
Christmas day, at about 4 am, I got out of bed and I crept downstairs to the living room. The tree lights were on and lit up the room with a nice cozy air. I could see the Santa plate - like always, the cookies were gone and one was only half eaten. Clearly, Santa had got full. His milk glass was empty, though. Under the tree were lots of gifts for everyone. I hated to spoil my Santa surprise but there was no way round it. I looked to see which stockings were match with which presents; and I laid out all my gifts for my family with the ones left for them by Santa (mom and dad, right?). I remember that I gave my father some paperbacks by some of his favourite authors. I remember giving my brothers a Fozzy Bear puppet and an Asterix comic book (I liked TinTin but Tony liked Asterix). I honestly don't remember what I set out for my sister and mother - and I remember putting out a gift for myself to make the Santa illusion complete. I was so excited! I was so proud of myself! I was so surprised when everyone was completely nonplussed by the gifts. Well, except for Jimmy, who loved his Fozzie Bear puppet. Never mind, I told myself. It's the thought that counts.
It was a lesson I would be glad I had learned, later in life.
The year that I was a seniour in High School, I got my first job. I and several of my classmates got jobs at the first McDonald's that opened in Berne, Switzerland. I hadn't been there long but I had been there long enough to make some money for some good gifts. So I bought nice presents for everyone in my family. I was especially proud of a winter jacket that I bought my mom, the apple of my eye. It was quilted, waist length, coral coloured and warm. I was beside myself for having made so grown up and thoughtful a purchase! I knew I had done well when mama opened it and scolded me for spending too much money on her. It was a loving scolding and I knew it; because she wore that jacket all the damn time.
I was a grown up gift giver!