I wrote short stories from the time I was able to string sentences together. Right now, if you asked, I could take you to a box in my room that has a notebook in it containing that glorious collection. There's a story of a boy who gets lost in the woods and kills a bear with a well-thrown pocket knife (that one is inspired by a tall tale told by my brother Don). Another memorable one is set thousands of years in the future when giant bees have taken over the world. Still another depicts the origins of Santa Claus. Some are in my childish scrawl while others are re-written by my mother. I was so young that my handwriting was too unclear to be easily read, so she sometimes translated them. She didn't make changes--just transcribed them. Some are on white notebook paper, but my favorites are on yellow. And that's the warm Christmas memory I want to share.
|Retrieved from sodahead.com|
I woke up that Christmas morning with no idea of anything special. I figured I would get most of the stuff on my list, but how could even Santa, in whom I had begun to have doubts (Why did he give some kids more than others? Why did I hear paper crinkling, scissors cutting, and tape being dispensed downstairs on Christmas eve? Why, when I broke a toy, did Dad ask if I knew how much it had cost when the tag had said it came from Santa?), could pull off finding these precious gems. At first, I didn't notice them. They weren't under the tree. In fact, they weren't even wrapped. Instead, they were placed inconspicuously on the arm of the couch, majestically waiting to be filled with my tales of adventure and romance.
To this day, I don't know how my folks found them. This was decades before the days of Googling something. It was either in the store or catalog or it wasn't. The best you could do was go out of town and look in other stores. But there they were, nonetheless. I ran my fingers across the crude paper, enjoying the uneven surface, contemplating what stories I would tell on those priceless pages. This was, if I may use an image from A Christmas Story, my Red Ryder BB Gun, my greatest gift ever. That my parents had gone to the trouble to find them meant as much as it could to a dippy eleven-year-old. But even more than that, though I didn't think of it in these terms at the time, it legitimized my desire to be a writer. My parents approval meant--and still means--the world to me, and that they not only were okay with it but were so invested in the idea that they would go to the trouble to find my hero's paper was the final proof of their blessing. I'm not sure I ever thanked them properly for such a meaningful gift. Let this serve as that thanks.
So what was your greatest Christmas gift ever? Share in the comments and I'll choose someone at random to win a free gift.