Christmas has always been a special holiday for me and even for the world. The joy it brings is delivered to people’s hearts in a very warm kind of way. Like in movies where you stroll down the street, your feet in the snow, with Christmas lights guiding your way as you go looking for perfect presents for your loved ones. In the Christmas morning the children wake up and run down the stairs, eyes pointing at the beautifully decorated Christmas tree, and rush to open their presents.
That was the Christmas I’ve always wanted as a child. Well, of course without the snow part because apparently that’s not how the climate in my country rolls. I used to imagine seeing real presents under the Christmas tree the first thing in the morning and ripping the joy out of the wrapping paper. Not the style of my culture, though. We used to have an open-house on Christmas, where my big family gathered and cooked tons and tons of food and people were welcome to come and eat, whether we knew them or not. I even remember seeing one confused old man that people used to be scared of. He entered our home and my grandmother welcomed him, gave him a special table, grabbed two plates full of food and they eat together. It was the one and only time I’ve ever seen his smile.
I’ve always loved our way of celebrating Christmas but from time to time I would look under the tree and wishing those decoration presents were real. Every now and then I would go to my father and asked why were the present boxes left empty and he would say that we’ve already received our presents in form of togetherness. I understood but the ego of a child inside me secretly disagreed.
One day when I was around 10 years old, about a month before Christmas, my father took me to a huge members-only department store where kids were free to run around because they have staffs whose job was to get kids back to their parents once they feel lost. I forgot the name but the store didn’t last long and I only visited there once. Weird, huh.
So there I was, at the toys alley, gasping at everything I saw. Barbie dolls, toy houses, weird-looking swimming goggles (turned out it was a snorkeling set) and lots and lots of things I wish I had. Then something caught my eyes. It was a pair of roller-skates, colored in black and grey, sitting awesomely at the bottom shelf. I was in love. I immediately ran around the store looking for my father because I was so shy as a kid and was too afraid to talk to people. Once I found my father I dragged him back into the toy alley and showed him the roller-skates. I remember asking, “Is this the thing that I always see on TV?”
My father said yes and asked me if I wanted to give it a try. I was nervous. The roller skates seemed so shiny the first time the staff pulled them out of the box and put them on the floor for me to try. It was a long moment of embarrassment as I kept on losing balance trying to stand up. My father laughed so hard but then he said, “Okay that’s enough. We’re not here for that.”
What the infernal hell. I really thought we were about to buy that pair of roller-skates. I was so angry, I cried non-stop from the moment I gave the roller-skates back to the staff, all the way to the moment we arrived at home and I entered my room. Still heartbroken.
I was so angry at my father and planned to not talk to him for a long time, but of course that didn’t happen because I’ve already forgotten about it after a couple of days.
Days gone by and there was Christmas morning. My mother woke me up and told me to get out of my room real soon. That was weird because I a child I already understood the meaning of holidays where I get to sleep until noon, which my mother used to understand as well. So I got up all grumpy, dragged my feet out of my room and saw a Christmas tree. With a boxes underneath but that time they were different than what we used to put under out Christmas trees. Big boxes. I looked at my mother and father and they told me to open the box with my name on it. I jumped right out of my grumpiness into a glee and ripped the holy hell out of that box.
It was the roller-skates I saw at the department store! The exact same one, same color, same size, it was the SAME! The room was suddenly filled with me screaming as I started crying and hugging my parents. I was filled with joy, a new kind of joy, something I’ve never felt on our earlier Christmases. It was a totally different Christmas morning and a totally different warmth.
So there it was, my most memorable holiday, my first Christmas with actual presents. One Christmas that seemed to be pulled right out of the TV screen and into our home. We’ve never had any more presents on Christmas since then, but I still love each and every Christmas we’ve had. But I’ll never forget my first Christmas present.
(Read more stories like this one on Today’s Daily Prompt)