I’d much rather take the coal

Ethan Perushek, staff writer

Imagine the build up: a giant present looming in the corner tucked neatly behind the tree, snow falling, the day ending. “Only one more day till I get to open it.” A vision of hundreds of action figures––those are all I seemed to care about in my youth––pouring forth from that giant present. That’s what I dreamed about that Christmas Eve…

Santa Claus was on my mind, with thoughts of presents falling from the sky. If I strained my ears I could even hear the clip clop of the reindeer hoofs on my roof. I laid in bed waiting for dawn to come, waiting to open that present, waiting to see the perfectly chiseled abs of the Hulk. My anxiety level was reaching its peak. Everything else dissolved into the mist. My mind was being consumed by it.

At 8 a.m. I heard my family stirring. I jumped out of bed, stripped-off my footy pajamas, and got dressed in sweat pants and a t-shirt. I sprinted from my room. The glory of full stockings, warm cookies, and tinsel, shining in effervescent light––I’m six years old I have no clue what that means––awaited me. The gift comes into sight but I’m cut off, held back, my mother contorts her normally kind grin into a wicked sneer and tells me we have to wait for my family.

At 8:30 the rest of my family saunters out of their rooms. By a cruel twist of fate I don’t get to hand out the presents that year, so I patiently wait for my glorious present. My sister, always torturing me, picked my present last. My eyes bore holes into her but she doesn’t seem to notice. There it is, the final present, she reluctantly brings it over. It was in my hands, VICTORY.

The recycled snowflake wrapping paper provides it no defense. Nothing will stand in my way. There is nothing but this present. A plain box, no big deal, I rip it off. Drool slides down my chin. I stand back, breathing deep, waiting for the deluge of Marvel Legends action figures with their neatly air-brushed details and rotating appendages. I am waiting for my feral suit Wolverine with extending claws coming complete with optional katana sword to materialize. I hear the guttural laughter of my father, the cruel cackle of my sister, my mother trying to muffle hers. I take it all in and stagger back into reality.

My hopes are shattered, my dreams crushed, the emotions flow out in an exasperated gasp as a single lonely tear performs a silent soliloquy on my cheek. I see the inexplicable atrocity looming in front of me, the tear-proof fabric, shiny silver zippers, a telescoping handle, and one lazy wheel. Luggage.

I try to block off all noise around me, but my father’s piercing howl is a metal tipped sarrisa that penetrates my sphere of silence. I sit there as he snaps pictures of my emotionless form, contemplating my grandparents’ cruel gift.