By the time I was ten, my parents were divorced and I lived with my dad. He was a proud man — a decorated WWII veteran and proud of it. He was also an alcoholic and was functionally illiterate. His paychecks for delivering pies to grocery stores were very small. So, what was he to do when his son saw an elaborate train set, complete with a small town that the train circled? I wanted one! Badly!
There was no way for him to afford such a gift. All he could do was compromise. When that ten year- old went to the tree that Christmas, what he saw was one small train toy that he could wind up and watch go across the floor for a few seconds.
I remember knowing that Dad was watching me, so I played with it for a while – laughing as it moved around slowly and made some sort of a train noise.
But what I recall the most is that I waited until I was outside and away from my dad's eyes to cry over my disappointment that Christmas.
Now, you are thinking that this is a sad story for Christmas, but you are wrong. This is not a sad story.
I have enjoyed more than I could have hoped for on many Christmas's. But the Christmas I “celebrated” when I was ten taught me more than any other. And I am proud of that Christmas.
I am proud of my dad for trying to do what he could for his son. And I am so very proud of that ten year-old boy who refused to let his dad know his childhood pain.