Please allow me to share a moment from my childhood.
This particular Christmas Eve begins like the others. As I tear into that square box that so obviously means clothes, I imagine one of the countless things on this year’s Christmas list (it was a good one). Pajamas again? Santa must have forgotten that he gave me some the last 4 years. Maybe next year. In the wake of disappointment, my sweet mother allows us to open the cards we had received from our beloved Grandparents in Washington. Cards are boring. I want a real present. One that requires batteries. Begrudgingly, I open the card. What’s that? There’s money in here. NO WAY! Fifty bones. I have never seen this much money in my life! I am rich and I know exactly what I am going to buy: Micro Machines van that folds out into an entire city ready for the exploring with my miniature cars.
I spend the following months developing a routine for my tiny cars and bragging to my friends: my grandparents gave me $50 for Christmas. What did yours give you? Each time, my story changes. My grandparents no longer surprised us with $50 each, but they give us $50 dollars every Christmas. That is how it has been this year and that is how it will be until one of us dies. I begin to plan for next year’s winnings. I have my eye on the Turtle Copter to go with my Ninja Turtle van. Maybe the underground lair. Either way, my turtles are about to see a lot more play time.
The decorations are up and my stomach is constantly full of cookies. It’s almost here. I begin to wonder if my mom will let us open our $50 on Christmas Eve again or if we’ll have to wait. I’m in luck. My Canadian cousins are here and we’ll probably open our money together. I sit in a circle with my cousins. We destroy the wrapping paper so fast that within seconds we are all showing off our new pajamas. Normally, I would start to wonder if this is a pattern, but I am lost in excitement over my money. The moment has arrived. I can’t wait to feel that crisp bill in my hands; to smell the sweet aroma of instant undeserving wealth. This time there is a present with my card. You shouldn’t have Grandma! I tear open the envelope but something is wrong. There is only $5. Where’s the rest of my money? It must be hidden in the present. The wrapping paper dissolves under my skilled hands to reveal a disgusting sweater completely absent of any currency. As tears begin to form in my eyes, I look straight into the camera that is immortalizing this moment and yell “WHERE’S MY FIFTY DOLLARS?”