Lauren and I have been quite busy preparing for the Christmas Holiday. Lauren pointed out to me that we have 22 people on our gift list this year and that does not include Max, Lauren or me. She said to me last night, “I don’t know how your parents did It.” with having so many kids and Godchildren and brothers and sisters.
Every year at this time I think the same thing. How did they pull it off? There were 9 of us. That’s a lot of presents for Santa to deliver.
Christmas morning was always a whirlwind in our house. The night before, my parents would arrange the gifts in piles under the tree with each of our names on our designated pile (We still, to this day, joke about who had the biggest piles of gifts, FYI- Jimmy). We would all come down the stairs at the same time and sit in front of our pile and as my parents watched sipping their coffee and tea, open our gifts at the same time, There were 11 of us in a small family room, tripping over each other to see what Santa brought for us.
I always tried to keep my wish list reasonable after I found out that my parents were acting as Santa’s agents. I knew they had a lot of mouths to feed and they always did their best to provide us with nice Christmas gifts. But one year, the only thing I wanted cost $60.00. I was willing to forego all other gifts if I could just have this one thing.
You see, in 1982 I was 12 and I thought I was a budding comic book artist. The only piece of equipment I would need, to be the next Jack Kirby, was a Drawing Table. I knew that sixty bucks was lot of money at that time and I did not have high hopes because I also knew that I needed socks, gloves, a hat and probably a new pair of Tough Skins.
When I came down to the tree that Christmas Morning, I noticed that there were a few gift boxes with my name on them. I was a little saddened that there was no table waiting under the tree but I knew that it was a lot of money and understood that things were tight. I opened the few gifts (gloves and socks) that I received and I sat and watched everyone else open their much bigger piles. I guess I would have to wait to create the next Spiderman.
As I sat and listened to my brothers “Ooohing and Ahhing” over their gifts I heard my mother, not raising her voice or anything but just a normal tone, say “Bill.”
I turned to look at her (and I know this sounds totally cheesy, but I will never forget the smile on her face) she smiled and nodded her head towards the back wall. I followed her eyes. There it was, a giant box, leaning against the back door. I jumped up and ran over. I tried picking the box up but it was too heavy. I spun it around so I could look at the front picture. A drawing table.
I was ecstatic. I turned around and looked at my mom. She had a devilish grin on her face. I guess the table was not with my pile of gifts because it was so big. I also think that my mom wanted to see my reaction to actually getting the gift. With so many kids opening gifts at the same time I am sure it was difficult to see everyone. Or maybe she was just letting me sweat it out.
I never did become a great comic book artist. The only drawing I do now is MooneyAngelo stuff, but I kept that table until I was 27. It is still one of my favorite gifts. Ever.