Christmas Crayons

      My childhood was filled with laughter, love, and happy memories -- especially during the holidays, but the yuletide that stands out most is the year of the Christmas Crayons.

      I was nine that December, little sis Diane was eight and big brother Dennis was 10.  Since all of us were sophisticated non-believers in the man in the big red suit, Mom thought she'd be straight with us.

      "Money's tight so you're each getting one small gift so I can get your dad the dresser he needs," Mom warned.

      Dennis made a grumpy face, but Diane and I weren't too upset. After all, we had plenty of Barbies and board games to occupy our free time.

      One day, about a week before Christmas, Dad was at work so Mom brought out a huge box and a gigantic roll of red wrapping paper.

      "I need you kids to help wrap but remember, Dad's dresser is our secret," Mom winked as Diane and I grabbed scotch tape and Dennis found the scissors.  After the box was gaily decorated, Mom let the three of us drag it into her sewing room -- Dad would never look in there.

      Since we always got up early Christmas morning, we could put it under the tree and surprise Dad when he got up for Christmas breakfast.  I knew my parents always stayed up late on Christmas Eve, then put presents out before they slipped off to bed.

       Since I was nine and had my own alarm, I set it for 12:15am so I could sneak out and look at the loot under the tree.

      I felt a little sad when I spied only three small gifts that Christmas Eve.  I frowned at the smallest tagged "Darlene", but didn't dare shake it, smell it, or touch it.  I was old enough to know Christmas held little magic if I already guessed my one and only gift.  I trudged back to my room and reset my alarm for 6:15 before slinking back under my smiley face quilt.  I was extra quiet so as not to wake my little sister softly snoring under her Strawberry Shortcake blanket on the other twin bed.

      Two blinks later my shrieking alarm clock signaled Christmas morning was finally here.  I popped out of bed and shrugged into my blue fuzzy bathrobe before I yanked the pink quilt off of Diane.  We heard Dennis already galloping down the stairs, so Diane and I quickly followed.

      As soon as we entered the living room I blinked a few times in the hopes our three tiny gifts would have multiplied over night, but no such luck.  Without a word we trudged off to the sewing room to get Dad's gift.  By the time we'd dragged it under the tree, Mom was in the kitchen putting her famous cinnamon rolls into the oven and we already smelled Dad's coffee perking.

      "Time for presents.  Hurry up!" Diane tugged mom's bathrobe, then all five of us scrambled back into the living room.

      "Youngest first," Dad commanded when Dennis started reaching for his gift.  Diane quickly ripped the festive paper off her cereal-sized package and promptly pulled out a bright red coloring book with a goofy grinning elf on the cover.

      "Thanks," she squeaked in her best trying-to-be-happy voice.

      I was next, so I grabbed the smaller box with my name on it and carefully peeled off the paper.

      "Geeze -- think we got all day?" Dennis grumbled.

      My smile was genuine as I inspected my big box of 64 Crayola Crayons.

      "Wow!  It even has a built in sharpener.  Thanks."

      Mom and Dad grinned as Dennis ripped the paper off his one measly gift.

      "Neat.  A model car," my brother mumbled with all the enthusiasm reserved for a visit to the dentist for three silver fillings.

      Mom and Dad chuckled softly, then Mom smiled. "Kids, why don't you help Dad open his present?"

      The three of us huddled around the huge box while Dad stayed parked in his Lazy-Boy.

      "Go ahead.  You didn't get to open much this year," Dad nodded.

      The three of us quickly ripped into the bright red paper, and Dennis pulled the tape off the huge brown box.  Shouts of "Wow!" and "Groovy!" filled the room as the three of us discovered more than a dozen wrapped gifts nestled inside the big box.

      Dennis frantically grabbed at all the boxes bearing his name -- boys were such animals!  I glanced shyly at Dad to see if he was disappointed.

      "What about the dresser?" I asked.

      Mom laughed.  "We got a new one last summer, remember?  I saved the box for this Christmas surprise."

      The next moments were a blur of flying paper and gasps of delight.  I don't recall the other gifts I gushed over that year, but I think about the Christmas Crayons every December.

      These days when Christmas means big ticket items like portable DVD players and Nintendo games for elementary school kids, I long for a simpler time when a box of 64 (with its very own built in sharpener!) brought pure joy.

      Yes, I'm glad my childhood was filled with laughter, love and one special Yuletide -- colored with the joy of Christmas Crayons.

~ Darlene Buechel ~

Darlene -- a Wisconsin Cheesehead -- enjoys reading, writing, and coloring during blustery winter nights.  Some of her previous Heartwarmers include, The Incredible Shrinking Mom, Fistfull of Pennies and Easy Bake Christmas.  Her email address is:  <dar @>.

[ By: Darlene Buechel (dar @, Copyright © 2005 -- {used with permission} ]


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