One Christmas, when I was a gappy-toothed, precocious firecracker of a eight year old, I received every single present I asked for. I remember how just weeks from Christmas I told my aunts the list of things I wished for on a family walk, how the day’s summer-heated glare was finally smudging into cooler dusk, the cicadas clamouring in the long grass as we wandered by. As my aunts took significant, obvious interest in my wish list to Santa, I began carefully bringing up the items I really wanted. An ornament stand. Pretty things to go on it. A new-fangled doona (eiderdown) to replace my blankets. A paint brush set. Things that I knew cost a bazillion dollars, and so wouldn’t get. But could still hope for.
Christmas arrived, and I still remember sprawling under the tree in my favourite cotton pyjamas opening up my first present – two tiny dog figurines. Every present I opened was something I had mentioned, casually or with desperate longing, in conversation weeks earlier, and I had to lie down (on my new doona!) with an icepack later that day to cool my poor, over-extended grinning muscles, still wriggling in delight at my bounty.
It was only years later that I realised that my family had been terrified I was going to die from a severe recurring allergic reaction, and they had decided I was going to have the perfect gift—whichever one it was on my list.
Christmas seems to be the time where the pressure is on to find That Special Someone (or, usually, several Someone of Varying Specialness) THE GIFT TO END ALL GIFTS.