It’s that time of year again when stores begin shilling their wares for that “special someone” on your Christmas list. It is also that time of year when the United States Marine Corps literally begins to wrap up their Toys for Tots campaign.
I wasn’t able to give this year, although I have in the past. There are plenty of children out there who would get nothing for Christmas if not for the brave men and women of the Marine Corps who donate their time to this charitable function.
I was once one of those lucky children.
I lived with my grandparents at the time. I don’t remember exactly how old I was. I remember the long cold walk with three of my uncles to the bus stop. All they would tell me is that it was a surprise. The bus came along and we got on board.
Everything else is a bit hazy. The excitement aboard the bus was overwhelming and I couldn’t see where we were going. I don’t even remember getting off the bus. I do remember standing in line and sitting on Santa’s lap. I remember nodding yes when he asked If I had been a good girl. I always tried to be a good girl.
His helper reached into a bag and handed me a present. It was a long slender box and very light. I tore off the wrapping paper and started to cry.
One of the Marines came over to ask if I was okay. I shook my head ‘no’.
“What’s wrong?” he asked.
“Santa gave me the wrong gift.” It was a Barbie doll, every little girl’s dream, except mine.
“I don’t understand.”
“He gave me a doll. I wanted a truck.”
The Marine gave me a hug and laughed. After that I didn’t care what Santa gave me. I got a hug!
I went home with the Barbie doll, who survived a whole week before decapitation by one of my uncles. It didn’t really matter, because one of them brought home a new Tonka truck that I spent a good part of the year playing with.