Christmas As A Kid Was Fun But Full Of Disappointments

As an only child, people will say I grew up spoiled. That never happened. Not in the early years, that is. Especially the years I believed in Santa Claus (up until age 8).

Growing up in the poorest city in New England, my family worked hard. My parents were able to pay off a 2 family home in Lawrence, Mass, and own it successfully by the time I was born. However, to “save money”, they’d be stingy with me and I don’t know how gullible I became with them, because everything they said I had to buy. For example…I did not have the basic, everyday things other kids had when I grew up. I did not have the most expensive clothing. We went to Stuart’s and cheap outlets where they bought me several striped shirts and shorts when I was 6 and I had to wear those until I was 11. It was pathetic and all the kids in school would tease me on that. I had no jeans. My Dad claimed they couldn’t find my size, as I was bigger than most kids my age, but there were kids “bigger” who had them, and jeans are more than regular pants. I didn’t have jeans until I was 11. And even then, my Dad made a big stink about them. I did not have a big room full of toys. We had no cable. We had nothing, just two TVs until I was 4, and two VCRs around that time as well. I mostly got by with coloring books, crayons, markers, puzzles, a few little action figures, and a few toys from yard sales that were from the early 1980s but they weren’t much money.

My parents would lie to me up until I was old enough to understand they did it to save money. I got lies such as “We can’t have cable because it doesn’t fit in our TV.” “We can’t have a nintendo, it doesn’t fit in our TV.” “We can’t have VHS tapes, they don’t fit in the VCR.” “We don’t need a microwave, it’s too much money.” Like a good kid, I believed them. And believed them. And believed them. I would even mention these things to my classmates and they’d laugh uncontrollably when I was in 4th grade (just prior to putting my foot down and finally getting a Nintendo that year and then a microwave which my parents made a big deal out of.Cable TV it took me until I was in 7th grade to convince my parents to get, by that time it was 1994). I mean, I went to school with a lot of kids, many who’s families rented or were on welfare, and they had all these things.

So Christmas was usually a disappointment to me. I loved it, up until I turned 8. I stopped believing in Santa around that time. You see, my parents always thought I was gullible. Even if I saw something that made sense, they’d tell me it wasn’t true.

As a kid until I was 6, we went to Christmas with my Dad’s side of the family. It was fun, but my parents were too into getting gifts for them that they cared less what I wanted. “Oh, we have all these gifts we need to buy and whatever little money we have left, we’ll get Mark a few gifts.” I was an only child and I got a “few” gifts just because my parents had to buy for my Dad’s whole side of the family which included 4 sisters, two of them, married with families. Most of the gifts they bought me in the end were very low priced, too.

I couldn’t tell you what I got when I was ages 1–3, maybe nothing, I don’t know. But when I was old enough to know who Santa Claus was, I remember what they got me. When I was 5, I got a chalk board and a teddy bear, I think, and a keyboard, yet it was not a good one, it was a “baby” one where it was so pathetically slipshod, when you turned it on it made an annoying vacuum sound that remained that way, and air blowing out of it or something as you played it, it wasn’t like a Casio one, it was probably a “My first keyboard”. It wasn’t much. When I was 6, I wanted an etch a sketch animator. Yes, they did get me that, along with 3 other very cheap toys, most needed batteries, which my Dad did not have in bulk and didn’t have at Christmas because, well, we never really needed batteries then for anything. Most of my toys I got from Santa that year, along with from my aunts, went back to the store. Also, I stopped having birthday parties when I was 4, so by this time, not many gifts, just once a year at Christmas. And the few trinkets my Dad would buy me a few times a year from the store which were very cheap.

We had nothing at home, really…No ceiling fans, no AC in the window in the summer, no microwave or dishwasher, and of course, no cable tv or basic NES system…I can say we did have a video camera and I had a lot of home movies, but, still, my Dad should have gotten a VCR in the early 1980s and a video camera earlier on when I was around 3. He waited a few years when they were less money and of course, made a big stink about them when he got them, saying they were “expensive” when they had been out for almost a decade when he decided to purchase them.

My biggest disappointment as a kid was going to my cousins houses or neighbors and seeing all the toys they had. They had MANY. I had very few. From ages 1–4, any birthday presents or presents from my aunts at Christmas I got (that didn’t go back to the store), the toys just stayed in the closet in our Den. That’s it. I had one little closet for them. There weren’t many. I had a cousin who had a speak and spell when I was 4/5 years old. I never got one. I had cousins and friends who had power wheels, again, I didn’t get one because my parent claimed I was too big to fit in one, but that was just a lie. And, of course, Nintendo, which everyone had by the late 1980s. I mean, bad kids, kids who stayed back, bad students, dunces, families who rented, families on welfare, et. All families had one. I didn’t. I wanted one since I was 7. I had to wait 2 years to finally get one. It made me feel like my parents and I were poor. We couldn’t have what everyone else had or it’s sad because the TVs they bought or VCRs didn’t fit a certain something that would cost more money like cable, NES, or VHS tapes that were bought in the store. I soon learned they lied to me and all that changed once I was in 4th grade.

As a kid, I wanted several items I did not get. I really don’t know why I didn’t get them. I was never bad in school, worked harder than most kids, had B’s when other kids had C’s when I was in 2nd and 3rd grades, was a good neighbor to my neighbors (in the 1980s and early 1990s)…okay, I was a little hyper, but who wasn’t?

From ages 4 through 8 for Christmas, specifically, I wanted a Playskool kitchen set. I referred to it as an “Oven Stove and Sink”. Each year, when I did not get it, my Dad made the excuse of “Santa needed a bigger sack to bring it in.” What bullshit! Ages 7 to 9 I wanted a Nintendo, my parents got me handheld tiger games instead. Why? Because they didn’t listen or weren’t in the know of what I wanted or just wanted to save money. I also wanted a power wheels. I never got one. “Oh, you’re too big to fit in one.” Lie, again! When I was 7, my Dad surprised me though, with getting me a remote control Ferrari. I always wanted a remote control car when I was ages 5 and on because all my “cool” manly, rugged, mean boy neighbors, no matter what age they were, they had them, and that wasn’t even one of the gifts I wanted, so that was something he did right that Christmas! It was one of my favorite gifts ever and it lasted years!

I recall Christmas in 1990, we went across the street to my neighbor’s for a Christmas Eve party. Outside, I looked into the dark living room where I saw my Mom tinkering with the stockings that hung in the archway. “Ma, I saw you.” She lied and said I saw nothing, it wasn’t her, she was in the bathroom, or something like that. When I got home, I was in for some disappointment. I wanted a Hot Keys and they got me a Hot Lixx. I studied the video tape my Dad took and it became clear to me that it was all a lie from that point on. As I opened the Hot Lixx, my Dad went “Is that a hockey Mark?” in broken English. “Did he know what it was?” He added. My Mom replied, trying not to laugh and with a fun tone “Yeah, a Hot Lixx.” Which I didn’t know. I just opened it and was too happy to even see it wasn’t what I wanted. A few minutes later I realized it. But how the heck would they both know? Especially my Dad, who jumped in immediately after I opened it, realizing it wasn’t a hot Keys and he probably couldn’t read that fast and how far away he was taking the video. Listening to their voices, I realized that they bought it for me, and Santa didn’t bring it. And, most likely, they were out of Hot Keys in the store because my parents made it a habit to shop for me prior to Christmas, when all the gifts kids wanted were out of stock. That’s how they most likely were when I was younger than that. They just pulled a Homer Simpson and picked out stuff for me that was cheap and not gonna cost much. I remember going to the stores and shopping for my grandparents before Christmas and seeing the Hot Keys and telling my parents I wanted that. They probably waited until the last minute to get it for me. So, in each video, ages 6, 7, and 8, my Mom would go “Are you happy with what you got?” Like I had to be because they bought it and most likely disappointed me. “Yeah, but I didn’t get what I wanted on my list/didn’t get too many things/Yeah, but he didn’t bring me what I wanted, I wanted the stuff on my list.” DAMN RIGHT I WAS UPSET! My Dad would always add to that, each year, trying to defend it. “Not too many gifts, you got 4, all good!” (Which ALL WENT BACK TO THE STORE)! “Oh, he needs a big sack to bring that.” YEAH? THEN WHY DID SO MANY OTHER KIDS GET STUFF I WANTED? “Well, he doesn’t make that.” WOW. AN NES? WHICH SO MANY KIDS GOT FOR CHRISTMAS?Even before I was old enough to even want one? Wow.

By the time I was 9 it was pathetic. My Dad tried to let me think Santa was still real, at least for one more Christmas but I wasn’t buying it. That Christmas, all I got was a Shark Attack game, a Hot Keys, finally, which I really didn’t care by then because I wanted a Nintendo (which I got in the new year of 1991, I think, once I finally put my foot down after telling my parents my classmates laughed at me and told me I believed all the crap they’d say over the years), and 2 ten dollar bills, one in each stocking, or something like that, which my Dad took from me and told me was going in the bank. Both presents went back to the store after a few weeks, too. Worst. Christmas. EVER!

Yes, Christmases are full of disappointments, if I had kids someday I will listen to what they want, I will make sure to shop for them early on and at least be in the know. And, with regards to technology I would never lie to them just to save money. Face it, most good gifts nowadays are usually technology or computer or console game based consisting of video games, DVDs, and other electronic costly devices unlike when I was a kids when we had few of those.

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