I guess I did it because I’ve always marched to the beat of a different trombone player. But whatever the reason, I’ve been doing it since I was old enough to make out a Christmas list.
Most of my list was populated with normal things, but every year, pretty much without fail, I’d ask for some kind of oddball item, which must have made my mom wonder, “Where the heck am I supposed to find this?”One year in the late seventies, smack dab in the middle of the glittery disco era, I asked for an old-fashioned, Victorian-style, locket watch pendant. Another year, I asked for a Fair Isle sweater. Think 1930s skiers and stoic little British boys during World War II in slightly too-small sweaters with stiff upper lips on full display.
Today those asks aren’t much, but this was decades before the Google. I don’t know how she pulled it off, but that woman fulfilled every crazy Christmas wish.
Except one year.I had a charm bracelet. And one Christmas I received a brightly enameled charm with three children caroling under a street lamp. I loved it. I made my dad pull out his needle-nosed pliers and add it to my bracelet right away.
My folks warned me not to wear it except for special occasions. But of course I snuck out of the house with it every chance I got.
Until one day, on the bus coming home from school, I looked down and realized it was gone. My beloved charm had fallen off the bracelet. I’d never noticed.
I was heartbroken.So, when I made my next list, I asked Santa to find my charm. My folks told me not to get my heart set on it, because there was no telling where it may have gone, and even St. Nick might not be able to find it.
Christmas morning rolled around, and I expected those caroling children to be in every package I opened. But no dice. I opened the last gift, and tried not to cry as I realized I’d never see it again. My mom felt as bad as I did as she handed me my stocking, “I’m sorry Santa couldn’t find it, but you got some nice presents, didn’t you?”Lip quivering, I nodded and removed the tangerine, candy cane, and walnuts that were in every stocking, every year. When everything had been extracted, I felt something cool and smooth in the very bottom.
I pulled it out, and there, lying in my hand, was the missing charm.
I jumped up. “He found it! Santa Claus found my charm!”
My parents had the funniest looks on their faces. They silently gazed at each other, and each shook their heads. My dad gave me a crooked smile and said, “This time we’ll take it to the jeweler to attach it so it will never fall off again. Go put it in your room, and we’ll take it downtown tomorrow.”As I walked down the hall, I heard Mom and Dad in intense, whispered conversation. I couldn’t make out anything but the occasional, “No” by one or the other.
I wondered if my parents had just found it on sale somewhere, and bought me a new one. I was a grown-up eight-year-old, and starting to doubt little things like miracles. I placed the charm on my dresser, and glanced down at it with a cynical eye.
And…I swear the little girl in the middle winked at me.
I wish the merriest and most magical holiday to you and yours.
Thanks for your time.