I've never forgotten my Christmas present when I was five years old and I especially never forgot the lesson I learned the hard way. As a little kid I don't remember many specific details. I think my consciousness was sort of napping until my id awoke. That's the psychoanalytical source of psychic energy. I guess it is my way of saying that if it were not for this specific incident I would probably have forgotten what I had gotten when I was five but fortunately for that Christmas I had gotten a beautiful bright blue bicycle and had my first road trip.
Daddy bought me a 24" bike but, to my diminutive stature, it appeared huge. Daddy chose an expensive bike and he told me that he got it for me so that I could take care of it and never need another bike in my life. Woe! That was a big responsibility to a little girl but I was delighted. He had even put training wheels on the bicycle and left them barely not touching on either side so that the bike could be ridden by experienced riders like himself.
We lived in a rental house on Dug Gap Road in Dalton, Georgia. His parents lived about two miles down the road from us. Daddy's sister lived between us and their parents house along the way. The weather was nice for Christmas day and Daddy suggested that we ride my bike down to my grandparents house. He said that he would ride on the seat and steer for me and I could pedal so that my legs could start getting strong so I could ride my new bike. I thought that was a fine idea. After a while I saw that I had been duped but that didn't matter, we still traveled on. Sometimes Daddy would give me a break and let me rest from pedaling. I was growing exhausted by the time we got to the old Dug Gap store and stopped to rest. My aunt lived in one of the houses next to the store and we stopped in to visit and get warm before we traveled on.
My aunt had her house all decorated for Christmas and had a big cedar tree in the living room sitting on her polished wooden floor. I remember she always had a Victorian painting of a woman posing for her picture. I asked her who the beautiful lady in the picture was and she said it was a portrait of herself when she was young. I frowned at this statement but never thought to doubt her. I just thought they didn't look the same to me. Hmm.
Vivian was a big joker so I never knew when to take her seriously. Sometimes she was called Ben, too, so that's what I usually called her. Her son had tried to call her Vivian when he was little and it had come out as Ben and it had stuck. She was all the time teasing us kids and she was teasing me that day about giving me a Christmas present if I was nice. I had to beg her for my gift. She pulled out a present all wrapped in gay wrapping paper.
I tore into it and unwrapped something knitted. I unfolded it and saw that I had gotten an ugly pair of red slipper socks with stripes on them. I must not have looked pleased because Ben asked me if I liked the socks and I said "No. They're ugly."
I must have hurt her feelings but when you're five years old you only notice your own feelings and my feelings were hurt. I don't know why I didn't like the socks but I thought they were a dumb gift. Vivian said, "In that case then I'll give them to Stevie or Eddie. They'll like them." Stevie and Eddie were my younger cousins and Ben's nephews.
I didn't want her to give my present away so I said "No, I'll take them." to which she replied, "Too late, little girl. You'll learn to say 'thank you' next time." She put the gift back in the pile for somebody else and I ended up with nothing. At first I thought she was kidding but she wasn't kidding this time.
The moral of this story is sort of obvious but it was one lesson I learned awfully young. Too bad a few more people haven't met up with their own Aunt Ben and learned to be gracious and say 'thanks' no matter what the gift is. It's not the present that counts, it's the thought.
I never did get a gift from Ben that year and I never did complain about anything she gave me after that. Lesson learned, Daddy and I continued on to Beulah and Paw Paw's house, but the climax of the day had already happened. The ride back home felt a lot longer.