Monday, September 24, 2007

The Gift

I do not have strong memories of my early childhood, so most of the following comes from the stories my family has told over the years.

My Christmas list when I was three included a doll house.

My father wanted to make my Christmas wish come true, so he set about building me a doll house. It was a simple two story house with white walls and a red roof. It wasn't intricate but it was perfect for a three-year-old.

Christmas day arrived. We headed downstairs to see if Santa had fulfilled our desires. There under the tree was the doll house my father had made for me. I can only imagine the feelings my parents had when I wasn't overjoyed with it.

In my three-year-old mind a doll house was a child sized play house. The nursery school I attended had just such a play house. And that was what I wanted - a house sized just for me. I don't know if calling it a doll house was an invention of my mind, or if that was how it was referred to by the teachers.

The doll house my father had made wasn't what I wanted. I cringe when I think about how sad I must have made him. I did get many of hours of enjoyment from that doll house, but during that first hour on that long ago Christmas morning it was not the object of my desire.

Several years ago I built my middle nephew an advent calendar (pictures here). I spend a weekend each December with him, and during that time I fill the advent calendar for that year. I had some trouble figuring out what to use for filler last year. My nephew loves anything to do with outer space so I decided to write a story for him set in outer space to be revealed each day when he opened the calendar. I was disappointed when he wasn't excited about the story. He really wanted robots. In that moment I think I felt a little bit of what my father must have felt on that long ago Christmas morning.

Looking back I'm sorry that I wasn't able to articulate what it was I wanted and that I wasn't thrilled by the doll house. It was a very thoughtful gift.

More Writers Island: here.


self taught artist said...

that is a beautiful piece you embarrassed to say i still don't understand what an advent calendar is...i'll look it up. never heard of it b4.
this post brings up interesting things about adults and children, as well as a reminder that sometimes giving something is just as much for the giver than the givee yeah?

Chelle said...

Advent calendars are used to count down the days from December 1st to Christmas (the Advent season). Most are paper with little doors, and pretty pictures behind the doors. My grandparents used to send us a new paper one every year. My birthday is in November. Once we were both adults my sister used to send me a new advent calendar every year as a birthday present. In addition to the paper ones, I got ones with chocolates behind the doors, and tree ornaments, and little plastic animals. When her son was born I sent him several finally culminating in the one the link shows you.

I'm now working on one for my littlest nephew.