Sunday, December 15, 2013

Christmas Past

I seem to have a problem keeping watches, and I had a sudden ah-ha today that my problem began the Christmas I was eight years old. That year, my youngest sister was born on December 23rd.  Those were the days when mothers spent several nights in the hospital after giving birth, so my mom missed Christmas morning with her other two daughters, and my father had to play Santa that year.

We lived in Queens, NYC, and even though my mother didn’t drive at the time, she had purchased and wrapped all of our gifts so everything would be ready.  According to family legend, my father rarely participated in Christmas shopping and certainly not in wrapping.  In his defense, he did travel a good bit for business back then, and he did pay for all the gifts.
In the North, the presents from Santa were wrapped like all the other presents, unlike the South, where Santa’s gifts are arranged beneath the tree unwrapped. My mom always wrote “From Santa” on those packages. Christmas morning, my four-year old sister and I tore into our presents as children do.  When there was nothing left but mounds of wrapping paper and ribbon, Daddy called Mom in the hospital. I’m not sure whether we all got to speak with her, but I do recall she asked if I liked my new watch.  My response was “what watch?” Not only had my father not participated in shopping and wrapping, he had no idea what we were supposed to find beneath the tree. We dug frantically through the piles of wrapping paper until we found the tiny watch box. Phew!
I’m not sure how long I managed to hold on  to that watch, but when I was in high school, I lost a watch I’d gotten for my birthday one year. It was a scarab watch, which was all the rage back then.  I took it off while shopping with my Mom, as it kept getting hung up in the sleeves as I was trying on clothes.  I only realized it was gone when I was trying on something in another shop.  We rushed back to the first store only to discover that whoever found my watch in the dressing room had decided to keep it.  My mom was furious at my carelessness and loudly declared that she was never buying me another watch.  That seems a tad dramatic, but that was the proclamation.
Fortunately for me, my dad disagreed and I received a lovely gold watch for graduation that year.  I guess I’ve pretty much managed to hold on to my watches since then until recently. For my 25th anniversary at the bank, I got to choose a gift and chose the proverbial watch.  That was almost six years ago, and now I’ve misplaced it somewhere.  Honestly, I know I wore it Thanksgiving Day, but have been unable to find it since. I wear my exercise watch most days, so I can’t say when I really saw it last.  I’ve searched the jewelry drawer and all over the house to no avail.
This time, I’m blaming our cat Puddin’. The only thing I can think is that I removed the watch and put it on the end table near my chair one evening.  Puddin’ is known to bat things off the table—pens, coasters, you name it.  When she does, those items usually land in the basket beside my chair, the one I put the newspapers in as I finish reading them.  I can only think that the watch landed in the basket and was buried in the papers, which I then scooped up and put in the recycle bin.  Who knows?  I keep thinking maybe it will turn up in one of the places where I’ve looked over and over again.
I may have lost a watch, but there’s always a silver lining:  I’m smiling as I reflect on memories of a Christmas past. And I can even smile at Puddin’.