I’ve often wondered if bipolar is the normal state of childhood. Since adulthood, I’ve never experienced the wild exhilaration nor the depths of despair I felt as a child. As Christmas approached, I’d be wild with anticipation: excitement at Christmas lights, sparkles of snow on Christmas Cards, and the trip to the woods for a Christmas tree had me near hysteria. By the time I was hustled off to bed Christmas Eve, sleep seemed impossible. It seemed I’d lie awake for hours, peeking often for a hint of light through the curtains, sure morning must be here. Finally, we’d wake Mother and Daddy for the most glorious day of the year. Inevitably, in the way of greedy children, once the joy of dismantling all that had been carefully prepared, I looked at the doll, stuffed monkey, rocking horse, tea set, red sweater, plastic box of barrettes and pearl bracelet from Grandma scattered among the wrappings and thought, “Is this all? I asked Santa for a pony, not a rocking horse! I hated dolls and tea sets and had never voluntarily worn a sweater nor brushed my hair.”
I was devastated, feeling I couldn’t go on, till Daddy told me to give Rocky, the Rocking Horse a try. He was a wonder on springs I could get some real action out of. Rocky and I were quickly moved to the porch where we could bounce without moving the furniture. Monkey and I must have ridden Rocky ten-thousand miles before I outgrew him. Oh yes, I eventually left Monkey out in the yard for the dogs to chew up. Mother found his dismembered body later but never told me the sad tale. I thought the doll and tea-set were a total waste till one of the neighbors died and I found out about funerals. I ditched the dishes and the box made a great coffin. We had a wonderful service for the doll. A lovely time was had by all.
The most thrilling Christmas gift I ever got was a red wooden rocking horse, named Rocky. I was so excited Christmas Eve I woke up half a dozen times asking if it was time to get up yet. Finally, about four o’clock, Mother and Daddy gave up the battle. We had to stay in our rooms for eons till Mother got coffee made. When she and Daddy were finally settled in the living room, they let us come in to see what Santa had brought. The tree, lights shimmering beneath the angel hair was breathtaking. Off to one side sat my red rocking horse! It was really bouncing horse on springs. I must have bounced ten-thousand miles on Rocky, the frame jumping off the floor till Mother couldn’t stand the racket and slowed me down.
Santa also brought me some other gifts. I was delighted to see the biggest box of all was for me unfortunately containing a tea set. I was initially disgusted, but later found the plates and cups very useful in my construction projects, excellent for scooping mud and sand for road building. The tea pot came in handy for irrigation. Despite my insistence that I didn’t want one, Santa just couldn’t get it through his head that I really, really hated baby dolls. This year’s model was a hard plastic life-size doll with molded hair. I hated it on sight. The icing on the cake was opening my grandma’s gift and finding her twin. There’s nothing better than two of something you hate! I was worldly enough by this time not to announce to the world that I hated dolls as I opened them, so I am here to tell the tale
Billy got the obligatory cap pistols, holster, and hat. I tried to work up a trade for my twin babies, pointing out we could hang them, then have fine funerals. I almost had him convinced till Daddy heard me trying to get his boy to swap guns for baby dolls and …………..well, it didn’t happen. Phyllis got a fine pogo stick, which worked just great till she wore out the stopper on the end. After that, she hopped around punching holes in the yard till she hit a soft spot and buried up. That could be fun, too.
It was a fine Christmas. Thanks Santa, Mother, and Daddy. Oh yes, except for the tea set and baby doll. I told you I didn’t want one!