One of my fondest memories of Christmas was when I was six. We lived in a rented house that was decent enough, but certainly not wonderful. My single mother worked two or three jobs, while also raising two children—one with special needs. Money was tight, but my mom did her best to provide good food, decent clothing and a nice Christmas when she could.
I don't remember much about my 6th Christmas, but I do remember my present from Santa -- a tiger striped bike.
That year, my mom cried so much because we had no money. She filled our stockings with borrowed pencils, paperclips, pens and notepads from her work because she didn’t have a single cent to buy us candy or trinkets. She did her Christmas shopping at the Good Will, because that’s the only place she could afford to shop at. And in the Good Will, she came across my Christmas bike.
The bike wasn’t in the best condition, but the tires were good (though flat) and the frame didn’t have any serious damage to it. The price was $10.00 -- a good price for a bike, but too much for my mother to afford. Aware that Good Will usually doesn’t barter, my mom tried anyway and asked if the cashier would please take $5.00. To her surprise, he agreed and she bought the bike right then and there.
While we slept, she worked on cleaning the bike up, pumping up the tires and hand painting the tiger-stripes. It was my first bike that didn’t have training wheels and was a golden yellow with true black tiger-like stripes on it. And although it wasn’t brand new like the bikes my friends were gifted, I didn’t even realize it, because mine had character—no one had ever seen a bike like mine— it was the perfect gift.
To keep the magic of Christmas alive, my mom made the bike from Santa and didn’t tell me until I was seventeen the true story behind the best present I ever received. Since that Christmas, we’ve become better off and have had larger Christmases with more and bigger presents, but that tiger bike has forever held a special spot in my heart.
Lately, I’ve seen articles and blogs and Facebook posts about Christmas presents and Santa Clause. Some people say you shouldn’t give expensive or big presents from Santa because not all parents can buy the same presents and children won’t understand why “Santa discriminates”, but most children don’t even think of that. Most children are caught up in the magic of Christmas and in the idea of Santa Clause. The presents -- be they big or small -- are special. Neither my brother nor I felt jilted or discriminated against with our stockings full of borrowed office supplies. We didn’t wonder why we got a used jacket and the people down the road got a new one.
While I don’t remember much about that specific Christmas, I do remember my present from Santa that year—a beloved $5.00 tiger striped bike.
In the end, Christmas is what you and your family make of it.
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