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Monday, December 27, 2010

The Best Gifts I Ever Got

I was a pretty fortunate kid. Santa always left a heap of toys & presents at our house. Being a military family, we moved around quite a bit, but Santa was always able to find us & he was always very generous.

For the most part, we lived in houses with chimneys when I was a little girl, but when we moved to Thailand, we moved into a house without a fireplace. I was so worried that Santa wouldn't be able to bring us gifts if he didn't have a way in, but my mother assured me not to worry - she would leave the door unlocked for him. Thank goodness!

Over the years, my brother & I got so many presents, most of them now long forgotten. There were a few, though, that I still remember, ones that brought me so much joy over the years to come.

One year, I wished & wished for a Barbie Townhouse. It had three floors & an elevator on a string, & was the coolest thing ever. I was so excited to find one on Christmas morning in my pile of loot! After that, Barbie & G.I. Joe (visiting from my brother's room) had lots & lots of dates, going up & down the elevator together, or lounging on the plastic sofa, G.I. Joe with his bendable wrist around Barbie's shoulders, Barbie with her high-heeled shoes kicked off.

One Christmas gift that probably altered the course of my life was an Atari Game System. Oooh! We were so excited that Christmas morning! My parents said they played Space Invaders & Asteroids all night long on  Christmas Eve while my brother & I were dreaming of reindeer & elves. That was probably the only time they really got a crack at it, though. For the next several years, my brother & I were glued to our little black & white TV as we fought off aliens & pulverized space rocks.

But the most memorable gift of all - by far - was being together with my family on Christmas. Seriously. 

I listen to other people talk about their holiday memories. Many of them say that they hate Christmas time because it reminds them of family problems they had growing up, or of family problems they have now.

But the worst thing that ever happened to *me* at Christmas time was that I didn't get that Hungry Hippos game set I'd been hoping for. & if I had, it would probably now be long forgotten.

Instead, I had the gift of spending Christmas Day with my family, watching football, eating my mother's delicious cooking, sharing gifts, making jokes together, listening to Christmas songs, complaining together about the traffic or the weather or the commercials between football downs. We always had a warm house & warm hearts, & our biggest worry was deciding who would do the dishes after dinner.

Now, I still have those happy memories of Christmas time with my family, & even though they are far away on the other side of the world, they are still in my heart, & that is the best gift of all.

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