Thursday, January 7, 2016

What I Really Wanted

Let me take you back a bit to the year 1983: the clothes were neon, the hair was huge, and the Care Bear craze was sweeping the nation. Every kid imaginable was going gaga over these plush little bears with their personality insignia on their bellies--cute and clever little bears like Tenderheart Bear, Grumpy Bear, Funshine Bear...and my personal favorite, Cheer Bear. That little hot pink bear with a rainbow on his belly was what my five-year old heart was set on for Christmas. There was but one small problem with this wish: those bears were near impossible to come by. Highly coveted, unbelievably scarce, and more popular than Tickle Me Elmo would ever dare to dream. And so, my mother did the best she could with what she had to work with. Imagine my reaction on Christmas day, when I looked under the tree and found this from Santa:

Not exactly cuddle worthy, was it?

Your eyes do not deceive you. What I got that year, instead of a fur-ever friend to sleep and play and cuddle with, was a Cheer Bear mug fit for apple juice and the like. I took one look at it and tried to explain to my mom, "That's not really what I wanted." "Sure it is," my mom reassured me. After all, what kid doesn't want a coffee mug for Christmas? She continued her hard sell every single morning when she presented Cheer Bear in ceramic form with my breakfast.

That mug incident began a kind of tradition with me as far as gifts are concerned. Don't get me wrong: I live a pretty charmed life, but when it comes time to tear off the gift wrap and getting down to present time, things can get a little dicey. (I can practically hear my friend Holly saying, as she is known to do, "Shop the list, people! Do not deviate from the list!") Apparently, the things I want either do not exist or they are typically difficult to find. I know I can be a very particular gal, but the heart wants what it wants--and sometimes, close just doesn't count.

There was the year I graduated from college, and I had seen the most beautifully framed diplomas in a shop window downtown--the diploma was matted along with a picture of an iconic building on Clemson campus. Be still my heart. Instead, I opened a snap-together, do-it-yourself kit with instructions to insert my diploma right below a pencil sketch of the same building. This Lego diploma frame was fine, and it got the job done, but it wasn't what I really wanted.

Poor Clint, over the years, has stumbled into the not-what-I-really-want trap as well. I truly believe he reads my wish list, and has good intentions of procuring the things on said list, and somewhere in the execution he loses his mind and things fall apart. I tend to open things that are sort of/nearly/almost/it's the thought that counts versions of what I had my heart set on...but not what I really wanted. I will spare the specifics, because after over 13 years of exchanging gifts, I believe he has suffered enough.

Christmas went that way for me this year, almost completely. I wound up with a large pile of returns, and kept a necklace and a book (clearly, the plan is for me to be well accessorized while catching up on my reading). And one more very important thing: you see, my mom told me when we got to her house that there was a special surprise for me waiting in my room. And after 32 years, do you know what I finally got?

That, my friends, in case you didn't know, is Cheer Bear! You can just feel how his plush, cheerful, adorable self was all the frenzied rage in the 80s, right? I squealed when I saw him, picked him up in a tight hug, and for a rare moment enjoyed telling everyone about my gift: "It's exactly what I really wanted!"

So if you are a member of the not-what-I-really-wanted club, don't lose hope. Keep making your list, dreaming your dreams, and putting on a brave gift opening face. Because some day--maybe even 32 years later--I hope you get everything you really want.


  1. I wanted that same bear and finally got it from a co-worker a few years ago! I totally feel you on that one!!!

    1. Here's to better late than never, Meredith!


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