Posted by Jenn Thorson at 7:00 AM Labels: christmas humor, easy bake oven, family, mysterious christmas gifts, presents
"It's the thought that counts." That's what adults tell kids about gift-giving after they've unwrapped the seventh annual itchy, orange knit sweater with a kitten appliqued on it from Great Aunt Eunice.
Eventually, years of orange kitten pullovers, and pen sets, and copies of Dan Rather's biography (what kid should be without?) forge a sort of resigned appreciation for the gift-giver instead of the gift.
And by the time we reach our second decade, we step across the threshold into the adult world, with a certain deep wisdom. One which no longer focuses on the greedy materialism of youth-- as we now have our own cash and can buy whatever the heck we want for ourselves.
Which interestingly, rarely includes orange knit kitten sweaters.
In my own greedy, materialistic youth, I had wanted-- like I've discovered millions of girls of my generation had-- an Easy-Bake Oven.
Ah, yes-- the Easy-Bake Oven! The shining, light-bulb-powered tool of independent tea-party hostessing and tooth rot.
Now, I was not the sort of kid to ask for things for Christmas-- or any other time of the year, for that matter. This, like being Heard as well as Seen, was completely Illegal in my family.
I don't know how it happened, but I'm sure it was instilled in me in the very early hours of Kiddom. Much the way crying babies are left by some Native American tribes to howl alone in the woods until they get it out of their systems once and for all and stop embarrassing their parents in front of the neighbors fer cryin' out loud.
So my parents and I had a routine worked out. I would think about the things I'd like to get for Christmas and not tell anyone. They would then buy my Christmas gifts. After this, they would ask me what I wanted-- y'know, to see if it matched the things they already got me.
And I would say, whatever they got me was fine. They would go away smiling to have such a terrific kid who was not a problem whatsoever like all of those other kids who actually wanted stuff, the greedy little piglets.
And I would open up math flash cards and reading workbooks on Christmas morning and pretend to be excited.
I wrote the book Martyrdom for Munchkins, in case you were wondering. It was 30 pages and in Crayola marker, but still an introspective work for its size.
My one loophole in all of this was asking Santa. Now, unlike other kids, I didn't actually go talk to Santa because, again following the family ideals, he doesn't really want to hear about that sort of blather, he's a busy man with other kids to see, go read somewhere.
So I had developed my own canny theory about him.
I figured, if he knew when you were sleeping, he knew when you were awake, if he knew if you'd been bad or good...
Then he knew about the Easy-Bake.
Yes, my Santa had advanced mind-reading abilities-- sort of like Professor X of the X-Men but with less angst and more hair. And for several years, there was nothing in my mind but flash card sums and the throbbing desire for small cakes I could frost myself in my bedroom whenever I wanted.
By about year four of this-- with ne'er an Easy-Bake to be found reflecting in the glow of the Shiny-Brite ornaments on the tree-- I had to adjust my theory.
Oh, Santa was still a mind-reader, all right, I determined. But he just didn't give a flying fig whether I got my light-bulb-powered tool of baking delight or not. He had a world of other kids to attend to, and I was wasting my time.
So this one year, when my parents had already bought everything per normal and asked, "What do you want for Christmas?" I actually said it. It slipped out of my lips like smooth creamy icing.
"I want an Easy Bake Oven."
The words sounded so strange outside of my head. They bounced off the harvest-colored kitchen walls and echoed back at me.
Mom blinked, surprised I had veered so far off script. "Oh. Well. We'll see," she said, recovering nicely, I thought, from the curveball I'd thrown at her.
And with that, hope glowed in my heart like a tiny cake-baking lightbulb.
A week or two passed and the anticipation was building. I could almost taste those cakes melting in my mouth. So sweet,so slathered in pink icing and so loaded with jimmies and those little silvery edible ball-bearings.
This was going to be the best Christmas ever! It was getting so the anticipation was almost more than I could bear! And so when my parents went out one Saturday, leaving me to my own devices in the house, I verged violently from protocol once more.
I went searching for my Christmas gifts.
There was really no secret where Mom hid them. Nestled among her shoes and purses in the bottom of my parents' closet they were, naked and exposed, vulnerable to prying eyes and groping kid fingers.
What was this? A weaving loom with enough materials to make part of one whole potholder...
And here? A Little Professor math quiz calculator, marked with bright orange "As Is" stickers...
And under that? A new set of markers-- that was excellent, of course, as I tended to go through them like Kool-Aid. But they weren't the true Holy Grail I was after...
So what was this? At the very, very bottom of the bag?... Could it be?
It was a Betty Crocker Cake Mix, a muffin pan, and a couple of cookie cutters.
I sighed and wiped away a tear, slipping the mix... the pan... the cutters-- all that was NOT an Easy-Bake Oven-- back into the bag and buried it all once more under the shoes and purses and the Little Professor Math Quiz calculator, which never did work right unless you turned it on and off 20 times first.
I was nine and I had seen the future. And like Galahad, the only knight to have fleetingly set his peepers on that Holy Grail everyone was so hot on, I knew...
The lightbulb of hope flickered and winked out. The quest had ended.
Today's question: So what was your Holy Grail of gifts as a kid? And did it live up to expectations?