A Christmas Story — Or at Least, My Christmas Story
I was a greedy little kid, always demanding the latest Star Wars toys and asking for my favorite superhero action figures. My sister was actually quite jealous because as the youngest kid, I seemed to get everything I wanted.
I had all the major members of the Justice League — Superman, Batman and Robin, and Aquaman. I also had the main crew of the Starship Enterprise with Kirk, Spock and McCoy, and that real cool energizer machine.
In 1976, I hit the motherload when I won the bionic number on one of the local TV stations and received more toys than any kid could dream of. My parents didn’t have a lot of money, raising a family of five kids, and, instead of telling me I won, wrapped the toys as Christmas presents and said they were from Santa. I didn’t understand why Santa gave me Charlie’s Angels action figures, but it was all good. I re-gifted them to the girls in my second grade class to try to score some affection (which didn’t work for me even then).
I also didn’t care for my toys very well. I threw them around the room as my warped imagination thought up scenarios that included dropping trucks down the stairs (or, as I called them, a cliff) or building ramps with a Monopoly board and crashing my Evil Knievel motorcycle into the wall on a daily basis.
One of the strangest adventures I developed was the execution of Starbuck from Battlestar Galactica by Darth Vader. Since Starbuck didn’t belong in this toy universe and I had no other Battlestar toys, I constructed a storyline of him arriving on Tatooine through a wormhole. Darth Vader captured him and accused him of being a rebel spy.
Poor Starbuck lived in a makeshift prison I constructed in my backyard with concrete blocks for three months (I always played Star Wars in real time), and, despite several attempts by the rebels to rescue him, his demise was inevitable. He was burned alive by Darth Vader in a coal grill on a hot summer day after I enjoyed some hot dogs with the family. It’s a wonder I didn’t become a serial killer.
Needless to say, I broke a lot of toys. And then I would cry.
In 1977, my Justice League team was down a man when I snapped the legs off of my Batman action figure. His little elastic legs and blue oven mittens didn’t stand a chance. It was like Bane had broken Batman in half.
The adventures of Robin kinda sucked even for a kid with my imagination, and Superman just didn’t have what it took to take down attacks on earth by the mighty Godzilla by himself.
Magically, on Christmas morning that year, a miracle happened. My Dad told me that I forgot to open a present that Santa must have dropped behind the couch. It was poorly wrapped, but I was curious to the contents nonetheless. When I opened it, I couldn’t believe my eyes. The Batman — that I had carelessly destroyed — had returned. It was a supernatural event that only Santa Claus could have performed. Or my father and brother who stayed up all night repairing the caped crusader by reattaching his legs with new elastic pieces. Even though it wasn’t a new Batman, it was my Batman, and I had never been so happy about a gift.
Well, kids haven’t changed — they still want so much. Only now, the Batman action figure is the much more expensive Nintendo DS. Looking back to that Christmas, and the many before, where my parents always made sure Santa delivered my favorite toys, has made me less attached to things as an adult. I can now admit that I was a spoiled little kid. I no longer ask for anything on Christmas. But you can bet that when it comes time for my newly born son to fill out his first Christmas wishlist, I’ll do everything I can to make sure his Christmas is as magical as that day in 1977 when Batman returned to the Batcave. It’s just something that parents do.