The Time I Was Nobody, Just Nobody At All

The Time I Was Nobody, Just Nobody At All


By M Paul Burress


I was eleven years old and had been working on a ‘hodge podge’ collection of mismatched bicycle parts trying to assemble them into something usable that I could ride with my friends. I was thinking very little about the approaching holidays when my father called to me to help him bring in the Christmas tree and we placed it in front of the window. Once the tree was up My Mother supervised it’s decorating and she placed three presents under it to get things started. A little while later, when no one was around, I decided check the names on the presents. Let’s see now…. here’s Juanita my sister and Donnie… and Ronnie his twin. “Hummm!” I said, “There’s nothing with my name on it”, well, no need to worry I thought, with two full weeks to go, there is nothing at all to fret about. As the days passed, I watched the gift pile grow, but still none appeared with my name on it. However, there was one each now for my Mom and Dad. The last week several new packages were added to the pile, I didn’t need to check for my name because my sister read all the names (out loud) several times a day. One evening at the dinner table my Dad reminded us”Hey only two days to go”. “Shucks!” I exclaimed loudly “who don’t know that?” Just about then there began in the back of my mind a slow creeping realization that something was wrong here, bad wrong. I took about three seconds to review my behavior over the past year, “Uh oh! “ I exclaimed, for what I was seeing wasn’t pretty. I had been in trouble, a lot, and I had to confess that I probably shouldn’t get as many presents as my sister or brothers, even if they are spoiled rotten and brats to boot. However, my situation was growing more critical by the day, I do not have even one present. As that begin to soak in, I suddenly approved ‘concern’ as being sensible, then immediately replaced it with PANIC.

Then, it was Christmas Eve and my worrying had turned me silent and brooding as I saw my fate bearing down upon me like Judgment Day. “Geez!” I begin to mumble to myself, “I’ve had it, some Christmas this is going to be.” I began arguing with myself as I went to bed, now wait a minute, there might well be a good reason why I am without even one single present. I lay in bed trying to solve my dilemma concluding it has to be one of three things. (1) They are just not going give me any thing because I’m a rotten kid, or (2) they simply just forgot me, or (3) I might be sweating for no reason at all, what if they got me a gift but just hadn’t wrapped it yet. Oh NO!, Christmas may come with me left plum out of it. I dozed off searching for a slender thread of hope that I might find at least one measly present under that tree for me, even if it was a little one. I really didn’t care so much about the present any more, but what it would mean if my own Mom and Dad left me out of everything on purpose.

I awoke on Christmas morning to the sound of exited voices in the living room and a clamor mainly around the tree, as I got up and joined the them I noticed a few more small presents had been added after us kids went to bed. My Dad began calling the names and passing out the presents, let’s see now Donnie ….. Ronnie….. Juanita …Mom ….Dad …. went the same names over and over until there were no presents left. With paper flying they were tearing into their presents with “Oohs” and “Ahhs” showing each other their gifts, while I sat alone in a chair across the room, my hands lying limply in my lap silently watching Oh Lord! I thought my fears have come true; I have been completely left out of Christmas. Yes, I’m here all right, but it seemed no one could see me. At last my mother glanced up and noticed me nearly in tears with my head hanging and she said “Son didn’t you get anything? I mean any thing at all?” No! Momma” I said “I guess not”

“Well” she said “I’ll find you something or other around here, it just don’t seem right you getting nothing a tall”. “That’s OK I Momma I said” but I was thinking, “Shucks! Share a pair of Dad’s socks, No thanks! It wouldn’t be the same now anyways.” Then over the excited chatter, my Mother spoke across the room loudly to my Dad “How come we never got anything for that oldest boy, pointing at me?”  Dad answered “Uhhh,” ….. “Well,lets see …..Uhhh,” “Now, after all the kids went to bed, Uhhh ….. I went to the car to get the last of the presents, …..Uhhh I had my arms full, I don’t know maybe I accidently dropped something.” “Son” he said “go look around the yard maybe we got you something and I dropped it.” Oh how I dreaded to look because ….. Just what if, there is nothing there “Well”, he said “go on! At least you ought to take a look” so I moved reluctantly to the door and opened it a little and poked my head outside…….

There, yep! I mean right there, standing on the front porch was the prettiest thing I had ever seen, a brand new Red and White Western Flyer bicycle, the best gift ever, ever, ever.

Now actually, that Christmas I received three valuable gifts, First, I learned that my parents may just keep me after all, but I definitely needed to do better. Number two of course being that Western Flyer bicycle and lastly, how much drama is created when you take a bad situation suddenly turn it into good one.

It turned out to be my best family Christmas ever.

*Until this Christmas I never knew my  father had such a flair for the dramatic, and he pulled it off so slick I never even guessed it was coming. I did not get angry about it even though it was a bit cruel if you ask me, but I have remaimed on guard the following 59 years.

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