Friday, December 23, 2011

My Christmas Story

Must keep things in their proper perspective...

Everyone has a special Christmas Story, or Christmas tradition that they want to hand down to their kids.

This is mine.

I am 9 years-old. My Mom brings me to the local 5 and 10 (WAY before WalMart) to pick up a few late-minute Christmas items for the family. I am in the store fewer than two minutes when I see it.   It is red.   It is shiny.   It is meant to be mine.   It is meant to be under our tree - with MY name on it.

It is, of course, the
Uncle Sam's Cash Register Bank

(The 'poke your eye out when you fall on it sharp metal nub' on my version was replaced by the impressive 'too wide' red 'puller-thing' shown here...)

It SINGS to me. It calls to me from across the store. I alone must possess it...

There are still a couple of weeks before Christmas, right? And ONLY $7.99?!?! How can my Mom turn me down? I've mentioned before that I have been in Sales for most of my adult life. What I haven't mentioned is that most people who are in Sales in their adult life, started out much earlier in their life, being, 'In Sales'.

Here's the dialogue, as best as I remember it, at least...

Me, "Mom, do you see IT?!"

Mom, "I'm sorry, do I see WHAT?"

Me, "The THING, the THING over THERE...! Can't you see IT?", I say pointing to the shelf that holds my hope for 'Christmas yet to come'.

Mom, "Oh, well, it isn't on your list for Santa, now is it?"

My hopes fall but I quickly recover and press the point further, "But Mom, how could I know?"

Mom, "Know what?"

Me, "That something this WONDERFUL; besides you (Mom), of course... Ever existed? I've never seen anything like it in all of my life. It's, it's... beautiful..." My voice trailed off as my eyes welled with tears all the while staring un-blinkingly at the object of desire.

Mom, "But you know, I think that Santa has already gotten your gifts all ready to go on his sleigh. It's too late to let him know about this now..."

Me, "But Mom, it's the ONE thing I truly want... AND, it will teach me how to be responsible with money.  You always say that I need to understand money better, right? It will TEACH me financial responsibility. Look, it even has a display that will tell me how much money I save; and saving money is really important! Right?"

Mom, "Well, I know, but..."

Me, "Mom, I WANT to be responsible! I WANT to save my money! I WANT to be like you and Dad! You guys are my heroes!"

Mom, "Umm..."

[The first overt sign of weakness, she is beginning to fold, now for the clincher...]

Me, "Mom, I WANT you to be proud of me, as I am proud of you and Dad. You guys are the best parents ever. I want to grow up to be a good; NO, I want to be a GREAT parent too - like both you and Dad are."

Mom, "Well, we already have gifts for you from us, and your Grandparents, and your brother, how can I get you this too?   It wouldn't be fair to your brother..."

[Rats, hadn't thought of that. Show no weakness, keep moving forward... Head down, keep moving...]

Me, "Mom?"

Mom, "Yes, Michael?"

Me, "Santa delivers gifts Christmas early morning right?"

Mom, "Yes, he does. Why do you ask, because you already know that..."

Me, "Well, I'm thinking;  what if we buy this bank, wrap it in Christmas wrapping paper, and slide it under the tree early Christmas morning before anyone else wakes up?

What if we put a gift tag on it that said?:

To: Mike

From: Santa

This way, no one will ever know that we bought the gift here, today, this very moment?"

Mom said, with the hint of a smile crossing her face, "Well, I don't know..."

Me, "Mom, we'll be the ONLY ones who will know! It can work. No! It WILL work! We can do this..."

Mom, "Okay, but it's just between the two of us."

Me, "You've got it Mom, you are the BEST!"

Christmas morning comes and there is an extra gift stashed way back under the tree. It has my name on it. It wis an Uncle Sam's Cash Register Bank. The tag says that it is from the jolly ol' elf himself, 'Santa Claus'. I love Santa. I love my Mom. I love the entire World this Christmas morning.

I still have the bank. It still works. My kids have asked me for it for years, but it's mine, I got it from my Mom.  It's still in my room in the house I grew up in. 

On Christmas morning I still love the entire World, in spite of all of its warts. Christmas is the one day you can still believe in magic. If you stretch out that magic for more than one day I believe that you will be truly happy.

In our family there is at least one gift under the tree each year tagged as follows,

To: Mike

From: Santa

There is also a gift under the tree tagged,

To: Gail
From: Santa

This is the tradition that I have passed to my family and now I pass it to you. This year, next year, just 'some' year, buy something special for yourself. Buy something for yourself that you know no one else would buy for you and tag it simply,

To: ____________

From: Santa

You've been good all year, you know it, I know it, and Santa knows it too...

Merry Christmas folks,


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