Best Christmas Present Ever

Kat Bouska, a/k/a Mama Kat, who runs the blog Mama’s Losin’ it!, operates a weekly Pretty Much World-Famous Writer’s Workshop (clicking on the graphic above will bring you to the rules). Every Tuesday, she posts six or seven prompts and challenges other bloggers to write on one of them and post it to their blog on Thursday. This week, Mama Kat had this prompt:

Best or worst gift you ever received.

I really can’t think of any lousy gifts I ever received, though I’m sure I got a few. The ones that stand out in my mind are the great ones. For example, on Christmas 1968, totally out of the blue, my mother gave me a Zenith Royal 790 Super Navigator radio, like the one shown in this video.

Father Christian, pastor of St. Ignatius Parish, who we got to know very well after my father died (and who eventually left the priesthood and married my mother), outdid Mom a couple years later. About two weeks before Christmas, he arrived at our house carrying a large box and put it under the tree. I looked at the gift tag and saw that it was for me.

“What is it?” I asked.

“You’ll just have to wait until next week to find out,” he said with a smirk.

When he had left, I picked up the box. It was light, and made no noise when I shook it. What the hell? He gave me an empty box for Christmas? Jim and Kip both shook it, and they were equally baffled. Why would he give me an empty box for Christmas?

I did my best to put it out of my mind for Christmas, but still walked by the tree every day and shook it. Empty. What in the world?

That was the year we started the tradition in my family of going to Midnight Mass, then coming home and opening our presents. Finally, I’d find out what was in the empty box. That was the first gift I opened.

Inside, there was a piece of masking tape that ran the width of the box. Attached, there was an envelope from Ticketron. I opened the envelope and read one of the four tickets.

FEBRUARY 8, 1970

A few weeks before, Father had asked me, if I were to go to a hockey game, who would I want to see? I told him the St. Louis Blues or the Montreal Canadiens. Based on that, he went out and bought tickets to see the game for Jim, Kip, me, and himself, even though he knew nothing about hockey.

The game was nowhere near as exciting as the anticipation of it. The Hawks lost 3-2 (both Black Hawk goals were scored at the other end of the ice), and no fights broke out (I think there were all of two penalties the whole game). Still, we got to see the Black Hawks when they were in town (at the time, only the road games were televised) and got to see the guys we had only heard about or seen on TV. But what impressed me most was that someone would go out of his way like that to make my holiday. That might be the best gift of all.