One Christmas when I was twelve, I asked Santa and my mom for a brand new Nintendo 64 for Christmas. At ten years old, I focused on doing all I could to get that Nintendo 64. I tried hard in school although the actual trying part focused as we got closer to Christmas rather than performing at a high level from the beginning of the semester. I did my chores without being asked more than 3 times to do it and I even was nice to my brother who is 5 years younger than me (trust me, if you know me well, you know that was hard thing for me to do at that age.)
When Christmas came, I thought I had earned it. I for sure thought that Santa saw my valiant effort to not be a pain in the ass and would reward me.
I started to unwrap my presents, first making head way through the family presents of gift cards, wallet, some other items. And there it was, a box wrapped in red paper that resembled the exact dimensions of Nintendo 64. I tried incredibly hard not to lose my shit and burst out in excitement.
Finally, I got the green light to open it. Red Santa paper flying everywhere, the ribbon thrown to the sky as it was a plain cardboard box with clear tape on it. I cut the tape with a pair of scissors, opening the box to find the one thing I didn’t want but had been getting every year.
Socks. Fucking socks and underwear again.
“Merry Christmas Michael.“ My mom smiled.
I never asked for a Nintendo again. I didn’t ask for a lot because I figured Santa didn’t give two shits about what I wanted nor did my parents. I get some small presents as I get older since I am a little old for Santa to hear my requests ( plus there were a lot of years where..well let’s just say I wasn’t the most well-behaved.)
In the car last night, my mom and I started talking about presents and the memories I had from which gifts I had received over the years. There were the times we would go to Delano, CA and visit my godparents (i.e., Pancake Town) and spend Christmas watching basketball and playing bingo. There were the times we spent at home, watching football and lounging in sweats eating cinnamon rolls until I passed out from a case of massive food coma.
“Mom, I remember one year I asked for a Nintendo 64 and I swear to God, I was going to get it.” I said laughing.
“Oh yeah. What made you think you were going to get it?”
“Because I really wanted it and I actually tried to be good and nice. All we got were socks and underwear.”
My mom paused for a bit as she made a left hand turn at a stop sign.
“Michael, it’s all I could give you at the time. I thought you needed it more than you did anything else.”
My mom didn’t have much growing up. When she raised my brother and I, she didn’t have much either but somehow managed to give my brother and I enough to survive.
We always had food, a roof over our head, warm beds, things that as a kid you never realize until you’re older how much those outweigh a gaming system.