I’m sorry to say I’ve forgotten most of the Christmas presents I’ve received in my life.
A few stick out. A red cowgirl hat I wanted desperately for my Christmas day karaoke performances. Mary Chapin Carpenter’s Come On Come On CD. A box of tampons. (This was my aunt’s doing—guessing correctly that it would embarrass me to death to open in front of my entire family, including my father and grandparents.)
A few years ago, I was complaining to my co-workers about the awkwardness of getting a gift from someone you don’t expect. We all know that feeling, right? The panic as the person hands you something and you scramble to remember if you have a candle in your car or a gift card in the bottom of your purse you can use to reciprocate. Well, a group of my co-workers coordinated in a stealth prank…a few days before Christmas, one by one they stopped by my desk to drop off an unexpected Christmas gift. Panic set in, then relief when I realized I was being punked. All the gifts were inexpensive but personalized. Nikki gave me a case of my favorite bottled iced tea. Steve gave me a smutty romance novel. Jess gave me a Christmas tree ornament that looked like my cat. And on and on…salad tongs, body lotion, and though I’ve forgotten all of the items the sentiment was lovely.
Even if they were just messing with me.
But the best Christmas present I ever got was a roll top desk. I can’t remember exactly how old I was, but old enough not to believe in Santa but young enough that computer monitors hadn’t yet made roll top desks problematic.
On Christmas morning, I opened my final present, a small box containing a clue. This clue directed me to another clue and another, until the series of clues led me into the basement where the desk awaited.
My Dad built the desk from a kit, gluing and hammering all the pieces together and staining the wood himself. He built the desk at my grandparent’s house and stored it there to keep my prying eyes from finding it before the big reveal.
I spent many hours at that desk, doing homework, writing in a little purple diary with a lock, and reading. I wrote my first stories there. I sat there with my radio, waiting for my favorite song to come on so I could tape it onto a blank cassette to listen to whenever I wanted. Our cat Peanut Butter would sit at my feet beneath the desk, cozied up to the register vent and hidden between its twin pillars.
If inanimate objects can be considered friends, that desk was one of my best.
Merry Christmas everyone. Here’s hoping Santa brings you something you’ll love as much as I did that desk.