Five days from Christmas! How I would have been freaking out as a kid. Christmas was everything. It was the lottery. Anything could happen, and though each year, every year, I felt the small taste of disappointment in my mouth when I didn’t get everything I’d asked for, I still hoped that this would be the year, this would be the one.
I thought of it, quite literally, as wishing season. I could sit around and wish and wish and wish and tell my parents my wishes, and maybe they’d all come true. It was astonishing, really, how many times they were able to come through.
I remember the morning I came down to find that bicycle. I think the reason I go back to this memory over and over again is that I couldn’t believe it was happening to me. I’d wished for this perfect bike with the banana seat and plastic streamers at the handle’s ends, but I knew it wouldn’t happen. I wouldn’t get it. My folks didn’t have the money. And somehow Mom had convinced me that Santa couldn’t meet all children’s requests, either, that he just didn’t have enough money. This I understood. It made sense that Santa couldn’t afford to give gifts to the whole WORLD without scrimping a little.
So it didn’t bother me in the slightest that it was a used bike under the tree – I completely understood why the rims were scratched and why the banana seat (o blessed banana seat) had a tiny tear along the saddle stitching. Santa had done his best and his best was perfection. It was all my dreams come true in one swoop, and I believed that Christmas was the most magical and selfish of all days, and sometime’s a girl’s dreams really could come true. I flew down the driveway on the bike, still in my nightgown. I pedaled hard up the gravel to ride back into the courtyard. I was a princess; I was a knight; I was a soldier. My bicycle meant freedom, and I wanted to ride that freedom all the way to the village to buy candy. But honestly, that was a long and scary ride, so instead, I did another loop to the bottom of the drive and back up, dodging the Corvair and beat–up VW bug parked next to the falling–down barn. I could still feel that freedom while reading my new books and eating gilt chocolate while glancing outside at my new steed every few seconds.
Magical, selfish lottery. I don’t regret a single wish. I still don’t.
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