An Unexpected Present


Growing up, Christmas was a big deal in our house. My dad believed in going all out with gifts at this time of year. He grew up in a large family during the Depression.  He always remembered not getting what he wanted because money was always tight. The story goes that he vowed that his children would not have the same experience as he did.

Needless to say, the living room in our small ranch house was overflowing with gifts for my brother, mother and me.  As I am writing this, I can still picture all the gifts we received over the years. Barbies, kitchen sets, drum sets, guitars, games, clothes, toy guns and helmets (Vietnam loomed large then), bikes ( I actually rode mine in the kitchen while mom was putting the turkey in the oven!).  My dad was a huge believer in Santa Claus and insisted that he existed well into our teenage years.

But even though we were spoiled at Christmas, my brother and I never asked for anything outrageous. We were always overjoyed and appreciative of the gifts we received. One year-maybe 1975-my dad asked me if there was something that I wanted for Christmas but probably would not get.  I replied that I really wanted a stereo system but knew that they could not afford one. Rock and Roll music and FM radio were in their heyday and it seemed like everyone was listening to their stereos full blast and buying albums that featured the Stones, Led Zeppelin and Aerosmith, among others.

On December 23rd of that year, we were at my Nana and Grandpa’s apartment enjoying our annual roast pork dinner. Nana always made a special meal or shared a Christmas tradition with each of her five children.  Our time was always on this date. After dinner, my father asked me to go into the bedroom because Santa had delivered  a present to the apartment for my brother and me. Apparently, it was hidden under the bed. I pulled out a long, wrapped and somewhat heavy box. On the tag it said: “To Kim and David From Santa. Do not open until December 25th.”  My brother and I were puzzled as to what it could be. Like I said, we had no expectations at all for any big gifts.

When family and friends gathered at our house on Christmas Eve, I told my uncle about the gift.  “Don’t open it first,” he said.  “Save it for last.” He knew that my dad would be dying to see our faces right away.

We did as he suggested. Together the two of us opened the gift last on Christmas morning.  And WOW!  We were dumbfounded! An Am/FM stereo system with a turntable and two speakers!  Of course, my dad persisted in saying that he and my mother did not purchase it-Santa did.

That stereo stayed with me for many years. In high school, I listened to many of rock’s best albums on it. All of  Fleetwood Mac, Jackson Browne, Elton John, The Eagles, Billy Joel, Chicago.  I brought it with me to college and blasted Bruce and U2 ( the early 80’s albums-OMG!) and The Clash.

For me the gift symbolizes many things: Rock music at its best, memories of my teenage and college years, but most of all my father’s unconditional love.


This post is brought to you by the venerable Kellie Elmore and her Free Write Friday prompt:

#FWF Free Write Friday: Childhood Gift

Write about your most memorable childhood gift. Was is a Christmas gift? A Birthday gift? Was is something you really wanted or was it a surprise that ended up holding a sentimental place in your heart? What do you remember? How did it make you feel?

free write friday kellie elmore

34 thoughts on “An Unexpected Present

  1. Thank you so much for allowing me into your beautiful Christmas memory. You put a lump in my throat as I thought of many Christmas eve’s with my grandma and uncle. Oh to have those days back. Wonderful times. ♥

    1. Oh I have been chomping at the bit all day today! I have it off so I was ready to go early. While I was waiting, I weeded, picked 75 peaches off my tree, baked a cake with them ( not all 75!), did laundry, cleaned some of the house, worked out, talked to my girlfriends, bought a latte’, went to the library, read more of “When Women Were Birds”- you MUST read this!! I kept going back to check for the prompt in between. I must have looked a bit obsessive!

      AND I can’t believe that not only you found me first but that I was the first one to post! 🙂 🙂 XXOO

  2. What special times you had with your family. Those are the best Christmases: plenty and gifts and no expectations of expensive ones. How I wish many could focus on this, family togetherness and sharing on this special day.
    I enjoyed reading your story. Reminded me a bit of when I received mine (a combination birthday and Xmas gift). That gift is one that lasted for many, many years and brought with it a lot of pleasure.

    1. My sentiments exactly. My memories are of the traditions and now that my sons are older, I have come to understand how much traditions mean to them. Thankfully, we have been able to uphold them despite the changes in our family. Glad you also have a similar memory of the same gift! Rock on! 🙂

  3. Sweet story. It is crazy how a memory such as the one you describe stays with us for decades. I remember getting a Skipper doll one Christmas. I wanted this doll more than anything in the world. She had long brown hair and a little brush and a gold hair band. I still remember how I felt holding that box in my hand. And maybe most of that response was being absolutely convinced that I would never get one. Thanks for bringing back this memory with your great post.

    1. I really miss the practice of pulling the record out of its sleeve, checking the needle for dust and watching it drop onto the turntable! Yes, indeed many of those artists songs are on the list of my lifetime favorites!

  4. jadedmess

    I love how your Dad insisted that your gift came from Santa. My in-laws always give room for Santa in their house…I love that! I enjoy your choice of music 🙂 Thanks for sharing!

    1. I know what you mean! These gifts truly last. Last Christmas, my fiance’ gave me two hard bound box sets of the Peanuts collection from 1972 and 1973. We had visited the Charles Schulz Museum last summer on a trip to California. As a child, I love Charlie Brown and read all of the Peanuts paperbacks that were published at the time. When I opened the gift, I burst into tears! While the necklace that I also received is truly unique, the former gift really touched my heart.

  5. Thank you for letting us share in your memories! It brought back some of my own at Christmas time and I received a stereo one year also. Music soothes the soul!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.