Monday, December 21, 2009
I am not an enthusiastic shopper. Oh, the garden center or grocery store produce section get my juices going, but I couldn't care less about the latest gadget or style. Crowds are not my thing and too much light and noise turn me into a head-achy, grouchy mess. The same was not true when I was a kid. One memorable shopping experience was when I'd made enough money from babysitting to put a wool, plaid kilt I'd been lusting after on lay-away. At 35¢ an hour, it took awhile. I could have requested it for Christmas, but I just HAD to have it sooner than that. When I finally paid off the last bit, the saleslady, recognizing the significance of the moment, carefully folded the kilt so that the shiny-gold-pin-that-came-with-it showed, placed it between tissue paper, then into a gift box. She then put the box into a handle shopping bag. I strode home ever so proudly swinging that bag at my side. Another special shopping expedition happened when I was about 12. Because Mom was such a great cook, my sibs and I decided to give her the latest kitchen gadget for Christmas. We saved up allowances and walked uptown together to make the special purchase. On the long, cold walk back home, we giggled in anticipation of Mom's over-joyed reaction when she opened THE Gift on Christmas morning. We just KNEW she'd LOVE it. Waiting those two weeks was pure agony, but all of us managed to hold out until the big moment without spilling the beans. As was custom in our family, everyone had to brush teeth, get dressed and eat breakfast at a reasonable hour on Christmas morning. Mom and Dad were smart in that they -- er uh, they asked Santa to leave our filled stockings outside our bedroom doors after we'd gone to bed. Between creaking stairs and bells on the stockings, they knew when we were awake. While we all whispered ohs and ahs over the treasures in our stockings, the aroma of coffee and bacon would eventually rise up from the kitchen to grab our attention. Either Mom or Dad would call up the stairs when it was time for us to trundle on down for breakfast. The torture of waiting for everyone to finish eating and for Mom and Dad to pour themselves more coffee ended only after we'd lined up, by age, and were lead into the living room by our parents. The tree was always lit and Santa had added big candy canes. Piles more wrapped gifts also appeared since we had carefully placed our gifts under the tree the night before. Now, placement of gifts was very important. You always wanted your gifts to be opened first so that you could bask [modestly, of course] in the praise and thanks from their recipients. This did not stop us from furtively but earnestly searching for our own names on all of the packages. When it was finally time to get down to the business of actually opening said packages, Dad ceremoniously handed out one at a time to each of us. There was no point in rushing to open a gift because we'd have to wait until each of us had opened theirs and thanked the giver before another would be doled out. It was AGONIZING! If a kid stopped to actually play with a gift, the rest of us would give him or her the eye so they'd know to stop it. Actual use of or play with a gift had to wait until every package had been opened. Of course, that unwritten rule didn't apply to the parents. Christmas morning could be long and drawn out if one of them decided to get all worked up over a new necklace or pair of gloves or something useless like that. Not sure how, but Dad always knew which box was to be left til last. THIS would be the pee-ace-day-reezeeztons -- our gift for Mom. Everything stopped when Dad handed Mom THE Gift. Big grins and stifled giggles gave away our pleasure over our carefully chosen gift. Mom oohed and aahed over the wrapping paper, trying to guess what was inside then slowly -- painfully slowly -- deliberately slowly [like-a-stripper-although-I've-never-been-to-a-striptease-show] -- pulled up the tapes holding everything together. When at long last, the gift was revealed, she half-winked at Dad and exclaimed that it was just what she wanted -- a Veg-O-Matic!! As we kids drew in closer, she opened the box and pulled out the magnificent machine that could slice and dice potatoes or instantly cut them into french fries; slice tomatoes (yeah, sure) and do much more culinary magic. We could hardly contain our excitement and pride! Mom claims to have actually used that Veg-O-Matic throughout the years. It now resides in the kitchen of the youngest sib. She hadn't been born yet, so it seemed appropriate that she should have it -- a piece of family history to cherish and pass down to one of her sons.