I believed that Santa himself made The Sears & Roebucks Christmas catalog and that he filled its pages with the stock from his workshop.
Although my young mind would run wild with want, we were not permitted to be greedy. We were instructed to look through the catalog and make a list of 10 or 15 things, and than Santa would choose a gift from our list, one that best suited our behavior for the year. I flipped from shoes to coats, to toys, to dresses, and back and fourth again. Did I really want this new flying saucer that could rip down the hillside, or would this amazing easy-bake oven impress all of my friends and make me the queen of second grade?
And, what if Santa picked something more in line with my disrespectful tone to my Mother, like white cotton underwear, or new church shoes? The pressure was on, and I crafted my list, compensating for my dirty deeds. If Santa wasn’t watching ALL the time, I should be able to eek out the polyester pants with the butterfly prints. They could double for a casual Sunday school outing, and make me feel like one of Charlie’s Angels all at the same time.
But then I saw the coveralls! They were navy blue with belled bottoms and a vibrantly colored choo-choo train embroidered right across the bib. Immediately I could see myself dancing around the Christmas tree in them. My desire for them was extreme. I put them at the top of my list and added a personal note to Santa, describing the unique beauty of these coveralls, and complimenting his elves for making a garment of such splendor.
Christmas morning came, and as I opened up my new church shoes and white cotton underwear, devastation began to set it. Hope slowly fell away as the last small box lost it fancy paper. I was unworthy of such beauty, I sadly accepted.
“Who is this one for,” my brother said, as he lifted the unmarked box from the back of the tree. “Oh, I think that’s Kelly’s, Santa must have forgotten to label it”, mom said.
Hope renewed, anticipation splitting me at the seams as I ripped open the package to expose the embroidered bib, thick with texture and ripe with color, a train symbolizing all of the unknown adventures I was sure to find in my travels through life. I stripped to my skivvies, unembarrassed by my tears of joy, leaped into my coveralls, and danced in glee around the living room in my new hip outfit.
I eventually outgrew my coveralls, but my love of color, texture, and adventure has endured. Their presence, or lack thereof, still dictates my dance steps and dominates my wish list.