Tuesday, December 8, 2015

You Can't Always Get What You Want

We don't always get what we want. Sometimes we have to deal with disappointment. I learned this lesson early in life as a fan of the Minnesota Vikings.

And, I also learned it on the Christmas after I turned 12 years old.

As a kid, Christmas was always a wonderful time. As a family, we were never rich, but we also were never lacking. My parents did a good job of providing for us, and at Christmas we always had several presents under the tree. We would "tell Santa" the big gift we wanted, and almost always we would get it.

The Christmas after I turned 12 was one of the few times I was disappointed on Christmas morning.

My Dad was a big, manly man. He was a farmer, and an athlete, and he liked to do manly-man things. (I wrote about him in detail here: Ode To My Father.) One of the things he liked to do was go hunting. It was something he wanted to do with his children.

Unfortunately for him, his children weren't that excited about it. His oldest child was a daughter, and back then girls didn't go hunting much. (Years later, after she was married, my sister and her husband went hunting with my Dad several times, and she greatly enjoyed it. But, as a kid? No.) My older brother never really took to hunting, either.

That left me. As his youngest son, I was seemingly his last chance to have a hunting buddy. But, it wasn't to be. I just never was much interested in hunting. I was a nerd. Most boys where I grew up did like hunting. In fact, the first day of hunting season was practically a local holiday. School attendance on that day was usually below 50%.

But, to Dad's dismay, I was more interested in reading my comic books or watching television than I was in trudging through the woods looking for animals to kill.

On the Christmas after I turned 12, Dad made one last push to get me excited about hunting. That year, for my big "Santa" present I got a 22 caliber rifle. It was not what I wanted. There's a picture of me with it on that Christmas morning, and you can pretty much see the disappointment on my face.

That is sad attempt at fake enthusiasm.
Contrast that picture with one from a few years earlier, when I was actually happy with what I got for Christmas:
That's me in the middle, happy and grinning like a fool with my toy machine gun.
I loved the toy machine gun. I could pretend to shoot all kind of things with it. But, with a real gun I couldn't pretend anymore. With a real gun it was either: A) Shoot at something; or 2) Don't point it at anything. There was no in-between.

Besides, by the time I turned 12 I had "outgrown" playing with guns. I was much more interested in video games.

Like I said, we knew that we could ask for one big thing, within reason, and we would usually get it for Christmas. That year the "one big thing" I requested was a Mattel electronic handheld football game.

Realistic football action!!! (If real football featured nothing but glowing red blips.)

All the cool kids had this game, and a bunch of the nerds, too. Kids today wouldn't understand. It was the ultimate in sophisticated electronic gaming at the time. The game featured one bright blip (the offense) trying to avoid all the other, duller, slower moving blips (the defense.) Looking back on it now, the handheld game resembled real football much in the same way that I resembled Tom Selleck.

But, I really, really wanted it for Christmas. And, since we usually got the one big thing we asked for, I was sure I was going to get it for Christmas. When I came upstairs and saw the gun sitting there, I was initially confused. Then, when it became clear that the gun was my "big" gift, I was crestfallen. I held out some small hope that the football game was somewhere wrapped under the tree. It wasn't. I was devastated.

Never mind that the gun was worth several times more than the game. Never mind that all of those cool kids who had the game (and most of the nerds, too) would much rather have had the gun. Never mind that it was what my Dad really wanted me to have. I was not happy.

But, somehow, I managed to get over it. In time I even took the gun out and shot it a few times with Dad. We did some target practice at the gravel pit. (Not surprisingly, I wasn't a very good shot.) And, we did some squirrel hunting, too.

I have some good memories with my Dad because of the gun, even if I never did really love it or get very good with it.

Eventually I did get one of the electronic football games. My bright red blip scored many a touchdown. But soon enough it feel out of favor when the Atari came around.

I'll leave it to you to choose what the moral of this story is:

O A. If you are sure of what you are getting for Christmas, you might end up disappointed.
O B. Be happy with what you get.
O C. You can't always get what you want. (But if you try sometimes, you just might find you get what you need.)
O D. If you get something you didn't want for Christmas, and someone is taking your picture, for heaven's sake at least attempt to smile and act like you like it.

No comments:

Post a Comment