Sunday, December 23, 2018

Best Gifts

There was the typewriter, of course, the Christmas, I was thirteen.

This was a manual one, with ribbon you had to change and keys that stuck together if you typed too fast, but I loved it immediately, typing out stories and books and even my daily diary, two-fingered, until I took a typing class in high school and learned the proper method.

A stereo and albums I had my heart set on. Don't tell anyone but I was a huge Van Halen fan, once skipping school with a friend to stand out all night in line outside the Hartford, Connecticut Civic Center, a night so cold the radio DJs over the radio were making fun of us and joking about sending us hot chocolate so we wouldn't freeze to death. Side note: the concert was awesome, although I was mostly slack-jawed, watching the lead singer prance around in leather pants with the butt cheeks cut out. (google "David Lee Roth butt cheek pants" if you want a good laugh)

But I digress.

Mostly, I can't remember gifts, things I once longed for, the packages I tore into. What I always liked when I was a kid was the lead-up to Christmas, the anticipation, when time seemed to crawl and practically freeze, those first steps down the stairs and the peek into the room with the tree, the floor bare the night before, now magically piled with presents,

and then a seemingly endless day playing and eating and visiting relatives while Sing-Along-with-Mitch blasted from the record player.

This year my husband has been converting old home movies--the ones originally on videotape cassettes and then converted to dvds-- to computer files. A good 25 hours+ of movies, some we have never watched before, many of Christmases past,

our own children stepping downstairs and peeking into the room with the tree, the first surprised glimpse of the mound of presents. And then the obligatory million shots of unwrapping packages, the holding up of new clothes, the demonstration of longed for toys. A parade of Legoes and American girl dolls, motorized cars and Barbies, plastic food kitchens and sports equipment.

Here's something funny: my husband and I have been fast-forwarding through those bits and instead have found ourselves lingering over the smaller moments

our four-year-old son dancing through the kitchen while I baste the turkey, his baby sister toddling around eating cheerios. They were so little and darling and I want to believe that we saw it, we knew it at the time, but there I am in the videos, a blur at the edge of the screen, scooping up crumpled tossed wrapping paper because I was annoyed by the mess, my husband not shown at all (he was holding the video camera)

while our very best gifts were growing up fast right in front of us.

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