Certain memories are always triggered by the onset of the final week of preparation for Christmas. I love all of the music, the smiles, perhaps not shared during the remainder of the year, but certainly offered in the "spirit" of the season. I am less thrilled with the pushing and rushing that puts everyone in sour moods, but I understand it.
I think about those parents busily, frantically, searching for the special gift that will light the face of their youngster Christmas morning, and I am always returned to the year of the "Cowboy Boots." We were never given catalogs and instructed to circle items that we liked (my husband's family did this). As children, we were instructed to sit down and pen a wish list to Santa. No open book test, there. If we couldn't think of it without prompting, we must not really want it.
As I grew older I began to realize that we rarely got anything on that list. Instead, Santa brought us gifts we had never considered. I don't recall ever being unhappy with my gifts (well, except the year of the coal and stick in the stocking) and I don't recall bemoaning the fact that I did not get whatever I had scribed on my wish list.
So, on the Christmas of the Cowboy boots, we sat around the tree as usual, and Dad handed out presents. One present at a time was opened and all watched with equal anticipation to see what the gift recipient opened, and to see who would be next to get a gift to open. Tim was handed a box, and upon opening it, discovered a pair of brand spanking new cowboy boots. Never having considered them for his list, he was truly surprised, and thrilled, "Oh BOY! Cowboy Boots!!!" he cried with glee. Suddenly, the other three boys KNEW what they wanted. They had not asked for cowboy boots either, but now each wanted his own pair.
The present opening progressed, one by one. I opened the annual slip from Aunt June. Jeannie opened her twin slip, also from Aunt June...(Aunt June lacked imagination in gifting, but her presents were always elaborately and beautifully wrapped.) Eventually, Dan was presented with his very own pair of cowboy boots, and as if the lines had been rehearsed, cried with glee, "Oh BOY! Cowboy Boots!!!"
Now Teddy and Raymond were getting excited. Perhaps there were cowboy boots for them too! Patience....patience....at 3 1/2 and 5 1/2 years old, they were not greatly endowed with patience, and Dad knew this. Still, he handed them presents and watched as they opened each eagerly, but not too eagerly...not wanting to let on that they WANTED cowboy boots. Eventually it was Ted's turn to open that newly coveted gift, and he followed the lead of his brothers with his cry, "Oh BOY, Cowboy Boots!!!"
Dad worked through the presents, and each present Ray was handed, he eagerly tore open with sure anticipation of the cowboy boots that would be his very own. The holsters and the cap guns were opened and appreciated, but each box had the true potential to be those boots. Finally, the last gift he was handed, was his very own pair and he did not let the gifter down. "Oh BOY, Cowboy Boots!"
From that Christmas forward, it was a standing joke for Dad to hand out at least one present to one of us with the assurance, "Oh, Boy, Cowboy Boots." It makes us laugh, even as old as we have grown, because it brings those memories rushing back. And those four little boys, so thoroughly in love with the perfect gift...the one that had not appeared on anyone's list. The one that reminds us that we do not always know what will make us happy. Sometimes,those who love us, know just the right gift to make our day!
Now, since I was only 9 1/2 at the time, I may have gotten the order of the boys receiving their cowboy boots wrong, but that's how I remember it!