NORMAN — It hit me the other day as I was putting up the lights and the Christmas tree that there was something missing.
At first, I couldn’t put my finger on it. All the ornaments were in the right place. All of the lights worked. And, for the first time ever, I put the tree together right the first time. It was a small victory, only shared between me and the dogs. They didn’t really understand my excitement, but they accepted the unbegged-for treat with little argument.
A few days went by, and I finally realized what was missing. It wasn’t anything that I could go buy. It wasn’t anything I had forgot to get down from the attic, either. It was the family story that my grandmother would always tell. I hadn’t heard it from the source in probably 25 years. And, quiet frankly, I’m worried that all of the little details are getting fuzzy.
As children, we always knew that Grandma was going to bust out that story — the same story she had told us every year for as long as any of us could remember. It had really became a family joke, but we listened every Christmas, regardless. The story, which is more of a tale of being grateful for one gift instead of 20, begins way before Grandma was even a grandma.
Unsure if Santa was even going to be able to visit her childhood home, Grandmother was a bit inpatient one Christmas morning. So, instead of waiting until her siblings awoke, she quietly tip-toed into the living room, where she found the doll stroller she had been hoping for for months. Not used to having new things, Grandmother spent those pre-dawn Christmas morning hours quietly rolling that stroller up and down the little house her family lived in that so happened to be built on a small incline.
The downfall of the story comes when all the other children wake up to find their one present. They, too, had been worried they were going to get nothing for Christmas.
A new wave of thrill hit the Watson home that morning. The second wave was a little more boisterous than the previous one. But, by this time, the thrill of a new toy had already left my grandmother’s girlish face.
This is the part of the story where her face would turn grave and she would tell of the gut-wrenching pain she was forced to feel while she had to watch her siblings dance around with glee. She realized then that celebrating with family was a lot more fun than going solo.
Someone asked me the other day what I wanted for Christmas. I told them I wanted nothing. But what I really wanted to was to say, “All I want for Christmas is to hear my grandmother tell her story one more time, to see her face light up as she tells it and to hear her voice. I want to see her eyes sparkle as she recalls that wild and free morning.” That’s all I want for Christmas.