I was three or four years old when I was invited to my first real birthday party.  It was a “real” birthday party because my older sister was going, too, and that meant our mom wasn’t staying.

I was so grown up.

Going to a birthday party meant the purchase of a gift was in order, and if you were a child in the ’90s, you probably got all of your birthday presents from Toys ‘R’ Us, too.  So Amanda Watermelon (or whatever her name was) was getting a Toys ‘R’ Us birthday present.

Toys ‘R’ Us was the MECCA of Barbies.  There was nothing else.  It was pink.  It was shiny.  It was…beautiful.

I couldn’t imagine wanting anything else–EVER–for my birthday.  And neither, I was certain, would Amanda Watermelon.

My Barbie obsession endured for YEARS; my lipstick fixation, however, was more short-lived and experienced its peak on the week of this birthday party.  Hey, I was going to a party–my first as a “big girl”–and I wanted to look good.

So when we rounded the corner and saw a box of PINK BARBIE CHAPSTICK…ohhh my goodness, there has never been greater excitement in the heart of a preschooler.

But I had to play it right.  I desperately wanted one of my very own, but how was I–a penniless toddler–supposed to acquire this for myself without the assistance of my mother’s wallet?  And how was I–a mere child entering into battle with my brilliant mother–supposed to outwit and outsmart her?  The way I saw it, there were three options:

1.  I could beg.

2.  I could beat her up and steal her wallet.

3.  I could earn it.  And fast.

But when I offered to do a backflip, all that came out was

Oh no!  I’d ruined everything!  I’d screamed “BARBIE CHAPSTICK!!!” at my mother!  Not only had the chapstick never been further from my grasp, my pride was slowly slipping away, too!  I needed to recover!  And fast!

And that’s how Amanda Watermelon got to have my Barbie chapstick.

BUT GUESS WHAT?

My awesome sister (with whom I have shared probably every chapstick the two of us have owned ever in our lives) has an incredible memory, and GUESS WHAT I GOT FOR CHRISTMAS THIS YEAR?

Not one, but two Barbie chapsticks!  The flavor of which, by the way, is “sugar.”  (Guess they save all their creativity for Barbie’s outfits?)

Yippee!

(Sunglasses not included.)

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‘Twas the week before Christmas and all seemed so calm:
Not a creature was stirring but the mouse and my mom.
She’d bought a HUGE tree all shiny with lights!
The only thing was, this tree was too bright.

She’d gotten this idea stuck up in her head
That the lights should be colored blue, purple, and red.
Bedazzled in white, the tree was too brash
So with Sharpies we attempted to tame its bright flash.

In South Carolina there isn’t any snow
(In fact, you might ail and have a green glow);
For with all of the heat and wild Christmas cheer
Rings of sweat and heat rashes are bound to appear.

Which made me wonder how Santa might arrive
Atop our hot house at the end of the drive.
Would he land on the porch? would he land on a wall?
If he did I am certain he’d have a great fall!

As dry leaves that before the wild hurricane fly,
When they meet with an obstacle, mount to the sky,
So rose my mom’s aim to “color a few.
As it stands, this new tree of ours just won’t quite do.”

And then, in a twinkling, I heard a new box
Open in the kitchen to reveal its great stocks:
Sharpies in all colors—not just blue, purple, and red—
To be applied one by one to each light bulb head.

I thought I had left all my work at VTech
But turns out my new task was to trim and bedeck
Each little bulb along each lengthy strand
Of Christmas lights with my skilled markering hand.

But those lights—how they twinkled! those colors, how merry!
The tree looked much better—not a little, but very.
The work we put in was worth the cheery glow
That delighted despite our lack of crisp snow.

From out on the lawn it still shone like a beacon
(The bulbs on the back were too far for our reachin’),
But inside the lights cast a warm, friendly shine–
Who knew so much joy could come from a fake pine?

(So you see a bit now from where I might get it—
The person to whom I am greatly indebted
For inspiring all of my weird, wacky ways:
It’s my mother—no other!—you should look to and blame.)

I hope you feel joy at this time of the year
That you get to spend time with the ones you hold dear
That no distance prevail to keep you apart,
But that if it does, you keep love in your heart.

That old heartaches may be resolved with such a sweet peace
That the hope felt at Christmas would never decrease
That you join me as I so gladly recite:
“Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good-night!”