December 21 2018,  Malden

A Christmas Story

By Virginia Ruane

The holiday season is here. The stores are advertising gift ideas. Car dealers are displaying the latest models, and the new Christmas shows are introduced. Everyone is interested and listening. It is a happy time.

Children are making out their lists for Santa. Others are thinking of what they want for Christmas and what they are giving to others. There are holiday parties, special church services, and family gatherings. Decorations and bright colorful lights are glistening. Christmas is in the air.

As I look back on past Christmases, one stands out foremost in my mind. Even after 50-odd years, it still pulls at my heartstrings with a bit of regret. It is not tragic, but in the eyes of a mother, it is a bit sad and regretful. Most of our Christmas holidays were great, but this particular year was different.

It goes back to when my children were ages three, five and eight. Santa Claus was a great part of their lives, and they knew just what they wanted. My oldest son wrote down what he wanted. Let me tell you, nothing on his list was cheap. One present he asked for was a bicycle. My husband and I would have to think about that one. He had almost outgrown his old bike, but we felt it was good for another year. So, maybe next year.

My husband was talking with our neighbor and told him about the list and the desire for a bike. Our neighbor told him that he had a bicycle that his son had outgrown, and it was in good condition. If we wanted it, he was happy to give it to us for our eight-year-old son.

When we saw the bicycle, we were very pleased. Yes, it was in good condition. My husband thought with a little paint and polishing, he could make it look like new. Oh, Lord, I thought he was just not a good fixer-upper. But I just kept quiet and hoped for the best. We both felt good about the bike. My husband enjoyed the challenge and looked forward to it.

He got out the paint and paint brush and the cleaning tools. We did buy a new bell and fancy handle grippers. When it came time for the unveiling, the bike looked pretty good. My husband surprised me and did a great job. He was very proud of himself, and I was proud of him, too. My son will never know that it is second hand. Of course, we will never tell him.

On Christmas Day all my children enjoyed their toys, thank heavens. When at night, I tucked them all in bed, I hugged my older son and asked him how he liked his new bike. He said, “Oh, I liked it, Mom, but I wished it was a new one.”

Oh, No! My heart was broken. Why didn’t we buy him a new one, and make a sacrifice? I was always sorry we did not make that sacrifice. He was such a good kid. We will make it up to him next year. And we did.

Just want you to know, this eight-year-old is now a grown man and very successful and has a brand new car. Whenever he buys a car, it must always be a new car – no second hand car for him. I wonder why?

I guess he never forgot his Christmas bike. And neither did his mother.

Merry Christmas to all!

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