One year when I was but barely a small crumbpicker, my Mom took me to see Santa. She sat me on his knee and they took pictures and then the man turned to me and asked me what I wanted for Christmas. I had spent the past few weeks thinking about this very moment. This is it, the moment when Santa listens to your request and promises to make you one of the happiest kids in the world when on Christmas morning you rush down the stairs and find just what you wanted resting under your Christmas tree.
So, when Santa asked me what it was that I wanted I didn’t have to stop and think about it, I knew my answer and was actually saying it before he’d even finished asking me the question. “A Weeble Wobble Treehouse”.
Now this is no ordinary toy set, this was the toy set that all the kids on my block wanted. Weebles were the toys of choice in our neighbourhood and I envied all the kids who had their various sets of Weebles. One boy had the Weeble School bus, another had a Weeble Swing set. One kid had the official Disney Mickey Mouse Weeble Set. What did I have? Fisher Price Little People, which don’t get me wrong, I loved. One Christmas Santa brought us the Little People Village and my brother and I played with that set for years. We even substituted it for the Death Star years later when we were recreating the Explosion scene with our Leia and Luke action figures.
But for that Christmas I wanted the Treehouse, I wanted all those kids in the ‘hood to look at me in envy because this treehouse was smokin’.
I mean the top of the tree opened (or actually moved up and down) to either hide the inside or reveal it. There was an elevator in the trunk that actually worked and moved your Weebles from ground to treetop. Not to mention I’d finally have some Weebles of my own.
Well Christmas morning came, and I rushed to the tree and my brother and I ripped open our gifts, and with each one I got a feeling of dread in my tummy. I knew that I wasn’t getting my treehouse. I can’t remember what it was, but I know that I didn’t get the treehouse.
It wasn’t the end of the universe. Life went on, and to be honest I didn’t really give it much thought again.
Then years later, when I was in Grade 8 I passed a thrift store and sitting there in the front window was a Weeble Wobble Treehouse. It looked a little worse for wear but there it was, and I suddenly remembered that I’d desperately wanted one of those in the distant past.
I hurried home and told my Mom what I’d seen and laughed about it. I hadn’t thought about that toy in years, and here it was a few weeks before Christmas and there was one sitting in the window of a store that I passed by daily on my way home from school. It was kind of eerie.
I didn’t know this until a few years later, but my Mom went out and tried to get me that Treehouse. She knew that I’d never play with it. She knew that my interest in it was just nostalgia, but it would have made a cute gift from Santa and so she tried to get it.
She went in to the store and spoke with the clerk and got the treehouse put on hold for her. She would come back on payday (the day before Christmas) and pick up the house when she paid for it. Come the day before Christmas and my Mom hurried to that store and was very upset to find that it had closed earlier than the clerk had told her it would. The treehouse was no where to be seen. My Mom figures that the clerk got an offer to buy the treehouse and sold it, leaving early so she wouldn’t have to deal with my Mom.
Now I hadn’t known about any of this, but when my Mom finally did tell me about what happened I was very moved.
The story of that Wobble Treehouse means more to me than the treehouse ever would have, if I’d gotten it. Sometimes getting your kids that perfect gift isn’t so much about delivering it into their arms, but the thought and the story behind it.
Stop letting Christmas be so commercial. Lets take it back and make it about the love, the kindness and being with family.
I watched the Garfield Christmas special with Dev the other day and Garfield said it best. “It’s not about the giving. It’s not about the getting. It’s all about the loving.” Who knew that darn cat was so smart?