This was originally written 2/12/08 as an assignment for a writing group.
An Unwanted Wanted Gift
By Maxine Hennis
When I was small, we didn’t get lots of Christmas presents like children do these days. We had a stocking filled with fruit and nuts and some little pieces of candy. We usually got maybe one or two presents. When I was about 10, I was enthralled with the idea of having majorette boots and a baton. I pictured myself strutting around, throwing my baton away up in the air and catching it without a hitch.
I also spent many hours at my little school room type desk my mom had found for me somewhere. I loved to draw and went through lots of paper. I saw a small personal sized blackboard in a store and then and there…that was my favorite and utmost desire. I could spend lots of time drawing and not waste all that paper. So that became another thing I wanted very badly. I obviously voiced these desires to family members over and over. Then…
The Christmas tree was set up in the living room of the big old two-story rock house where we lived. About a week before Christmas, I saw it! It was a box about 3 feet by 2 ½ feet by about 4 inches. I just knew there was a blackboard in there. I was so happy, so excited, and so impatient for the day to come when we could open our presents.
Finally it was Christmas morning. I could hardly contain my excitement. Finally, it was my turn to open my present. I turned it around and around, shook it, and, then I opened it. I opened one end and peeked in. I could see nothing, especially anything that looked like a blackboard. There were newspapers stuffed in the box and I began pulling the pieces out, one at a time. I couldn’t reach the papers anymore so I turned the box over and opened the other end. There was something wrapped in Christmas paper. It was about 18 inches long, had two heads on it, and was solid. To my incredible surprise, there was a baton! I was so thrilled and disappointed at the same time. I can never explain how I felt, betrayed, foolish because they had tricked me, happy to have a baton, but deeply hurt that I didn’t get the blackboard. Several minutes later my oldest sister brought in another gift for me. It was the blackboard.
This might be a good time to share my suspicions. My oldest sister, who was probably in her early 20’s, was kind of a rascal. I have always suspected it was her idea to deceive me, thinking it would be funny. Obviously the blackboard came in the box but they used the box to hide the baton. Seems funnier as an adult but it seemed really mean to me at that time.
I played with the baton a lot the first few weeks, then occasionally. I learned to twirl it, move it from hand to hand in the middle of a twirl, and to toss it in the air and catch it. However, I spent countless hours playing with that blackboard. That was the favorite gift I ever received as a child. When I outgrew it, I gave it to a nephew, who played with it a lot, too. Was that gift comparable to an Ipod now? It’s hard to imagine a child these days getting that much pleasure out of a blackboard and a box of chalk.