I remember a Christmas ....
It was the one when I was eight years old. Life was good. Not that an eight-year old knows otherwise, but life was good.
I was eight, and my nephew was nine months old. My pesky brother would have been 15. I hadn't yet begun to like him much. He had, as far as I could remember, pestered me, teased me, tricked me, tickled me, and made me cry over and over for all eight of my years.
My nephew was another thing. He was cute and funny. He was a baby and didn't know how to make my life miserable. At least not yet. He wasn't a pesky boy yet.
Christmas pretty much centered around the three of us. We were the kids, and Christmas was all about us. It was a good time, for sure.
When asked what he wanted for Christmas, my brother had responded like a teenager, with a smart-aleck remark. He said he wanted a ducky for Christmas. Apparently, he stuck with that reply after being asked many times. So when Christmas morning arrived and he began opening presents, guess what he got. Of course. He got duckies!! He got rubber duckies that floated in the bathtub, duckies on a string to be pulled behind, duckies of every kind and description. And his face became a sadly stony smile as each gift was opened to reveal yet another ducky of some kind.
Now, he got other gifts, but he didn't know that at the time. The other gifts were hidden away till later. The duckies eventually went to our little nephew, and my brother got gifts that were more suited for him. Of course, I don't remember what those real gifts were. Not a single one! But I remember the duckies!
My brother and I both got bicycles, Schwinn's I think. They were deluxe models with a passenger seat on the back, a basket on the front, a "real" horn (not a squeeze bulb, but a little push button horn), a speedometer, tassels on the handle grips, and everything that was possible on the bike at that time. They were awesome! As soon as the gift opening was finished, my brother and I set out to ride our new bikes. We went out to ride around the block, and being the pesky older brother he was, my brother tried to run away from me. Being the hard-headed little sister that I was, I was determined that he wouldn't do that. And the race was on.
As we went around the first three corners of the block, he gradually pulled away from me. I peddled harder and harder, trying with all my eight-year old legs could produce to keep up and in my eight-year old silly brain, I actually imagined that I could not only catch up, but pass him. Yeah, I know ..... but I was just eight!
We lived in Colorado at that time, at an elevation of about 7000 feet in a high valley with soaring mountains around, many of which were 12,000 to 14,000 feet high. It was cold, and we had had some moisture, the kind that froze at night and melted during the day, only to freeze again at night.
By the time I rounded that last corner my brother was nearly home, about a half-block ahead of me, laughing and enjoying taunting his little sister. And I was becoming angry, once again humiliated by his superiority. Not that I understood superiority, exactly; I just knew I was once again outdone and being teased by him!!
I suspect tears were in my eyes by this time, although I don't remember. I just remember being humiliated. My brother had teased me my whole life. That's what brothers do, but I didn't "get it." I only understood that I wanted so badly to be first, be better, be the winner, do better than him, just once. Just once.
And as I came round that last corner, I was so obsessed with catching up that I didn't pay attention to the ice that had frozen there, some of that freeze and thaw cycle I mentioned above. I saw no ice. I only saw my brother on his bicycle, growing smaller with every second as he threw laughter over his shoulder and beat me, once again.
Down I went. The brand new bike and I both went scattering in the street. I remember that it hurt, but I don't recall if there were scrapes or cuts. I remember only the salty tears of anger and a bit of concern about my bike.
The rest of the day is vague. My nephew was having a great time with the duckies, and the family was all together around the tree, talking and just having a good family Christmas. It was a happy time. I don't remember being angry with my brother for the rest of they day. Anger comes and goes quickly at that age.
I remember a Christmas.