Monday, December 14, 2009

Hope is a yellow dump truck

Of all the toys that I got for Christmas, my favorite has to be the yellow dump truck. I was 8 years old, and it was the first time that my mother actually had us pick out what we wanted for Christmas. Before then, we used to ask and beg for what we wanted, and we hoped that our parents would get it for us. Of course, we didn't always get what we wanted, but what we did get was still awesome. What kid doesn't like getting toys for Christmas? Any toy is way better than getting socks and underwear--you can get clothes any time of the year, no special occasion required.

I remember being so excited going to the store. It was a rare treat. It's not often that my mother would take us to the stores. The few times we did go to the stores, my two brothers and I were pretty rowdy and often ran around in the stores. Even though we knew we'd get a spanking for being rambunctious in the stores, we just couldn't resist acting wild. There were just too many shiny objects grabbing our attention and so many racks of clothes that tempted us to play and hide seek under them. And when you're just a young boy full of energy, you just want to play and have fun exploring new places.

I was really excited and happy about going to the store. We knew we were going to pick out presents. Our mother had told us so, and she also expected us to be on our best behavior if we wanted our presents. It was really hard for the three of us to keep still and not run around. But we did, because it was getting near Christmas and we so wanted to pick our gifts. As we rode the bus into town, we had smiles plastered on our faces and kept laughing every time we looked at each other. My mother smiled at us every now and then. I remember thinking, Wow, this is such a great day. I was just so happy to be doing something fun with the people that I luved.

When we got off the bus, we all held hands and crossed the parking lot and headed into the large store. It was full of people doing their shopping. I remember the store decorations--bright red and yellow bows with green wreaths and garlands in the windows and on the walls. A large Christmas tree--decked out with tinsel and shining, colorful ornaments and twinkling lights--stood tall and pretty by the front counter. Cheerful holiday songs were playing in the store.

My mother walked us down to the toy aisle and told us to go down the aisle and pick out what we wanted. It felt like a dream! My brothers and I were giddy with happiness as we took our time walking down the aisle. There were just so many great toys! And they all looked fun. But we could only pick out one toy that we really wanted. So we needed to take our time and really think hard about what toy we wanted for Christmas.

Halfway down the aisle, I stopped as my brothers kept moving on, looking at all the wonderful toys. There, on the bottom shelf, I saw it. It was a yellow dump truck, with battery operated flashing sirens. I was drawn to it. It shone so bright and I reached out to touch its box, imagining myself playing with it, filling it with rocks and stuff that I could push around before dumping them. I felt my heart beat faster at the excitement of finding such a great toy. It seemed so amazing and special.

I confess though, that a small part of me wanted to keep looking down the aisle to see what other great toys I could find. So I reluctantly followed my brothers and checked out the rest of the toys in the aisle. My brothers were excited at finding remote controlled cars. And they were pretty cool and fun, and I wanted one, too. But I was still drawn to that yellow dump truck. So I went back to it to see if I still wanted that or get a remote controlled car. That yellow dump truck still shone bright for me, and it made me feel happy just to look at it. I knew for sure then that this is what I wanted for Christmas.

We picked out our toys and showed our mother. She smiled and led us to the counter, where she paid for them and had them gift wrapped. My brothers and I couldn't stop smiling gleefully at each other and thanked our Mom, hugged her real tight before we left the store. We spent the day going clothes shopping; we managed to behave ourselves as we tried on different clothes and shoes. We stopped for ice cream before we took the bus home, each of us holding a shopping bag. And when we got home, we put the presents under the Christmas tree. It was such a wonderful day, just pure joy.

When Christmas came, my brothers and I were just so excited and eager to finally open our presents and play with our toys. It was more fun than we had imagined. I remember my brothers laughing as they raced their remote controlled cars. I laughed when that yellow dump truck's sirens went off and the lights flashed as it drove on the floor. I remember being amazed when at the push of a button, it stopped moving and started lifting its back, dumping the contents that I had piled in the cargo bed. I remember the content smile on my mother's face. She looked so happy. We were all happy that day.

Over the next few years, I played with that yellow dump truck. I spent many hours imagining myself working on some site, carrying and emptying cargo. Even without batteries for the sirens and flashing lights, I still luved pushing that yellow dump truck around, emptying its bed. I took very good care of it. I kept it clean and made sure to put it away when I was done playing with it.

And when I got older and stopped playing with children's toys, I put that dump truck on a high shelf in my room. By the time I was in high school, I couldn't remember the last time I played with it. Yet I still cherished it. It still had magic for me. When I looked at it, it still shined brightly for me, and it still made me happy, still made me smile fondly. That yellow dump truck was special. Whenever I'd feel sad or frustrated or lost, I just had to touch that yellow dump truck, hold it in my hands, and I'd remember that feeling of happiness I got when I first played with it. And somehow, I knew that things were going to be all right; that I'd get through somehow, someway, and I was going to be okay.

The Christmas I got that yellow dump truck was the first Christmas without my Dad. He had passed away that year, and it was such a terrible and sad time for me and my family. I remember crying at night, when everyone else was asleep, because I really missed my dad. I remember catching my Mom crying a few times when she thought she was the only one awake; that only made me cry more. I did not think that I would be happy again, and I was angry at just how unfair life was. I hated feeling that way, and I hated knowing that there was nothing I could do to change it.

So the day my mother took us to the store to pick our Christmas presents was one of the happiest days of my life. It was the first time that I did not think of my Dad and feel sad. It was the first time in a long time that I actually felt really good and happy. And that Christmas, when I played with that yellow dump truck, I remember feeling so alive, so thankful, and so happy. Seeing my mother smile and happy made me feel good and truly joyful. It gave me hope that things were going to be all right. And that yellow dump truck was the symbol of that hope, that no matter how tough things had become, we'd find a way to go on, to survive, to be happy again.

That was also the last Christmas that I was truly a child. The death of my father had made me more aware of life--its fragility, its brevity, and its preciousness. That was the last Christmas that I looked forward to getting presents with childhood wonder and excitement. I became more interested in giving presents, making others feel happy. I stopped expecting presents, because it was truly more fun for me to do nice things for others. I still got some wonderful presents after that Christmas, but none of them gave me quite the same happiness that I felt when I got that yellow dump truck.

When I left home to live on my own, that yellow dump truck was still perched on the shelf. I thought about taking it with me, but I sheepishly realized that it would seem kind of childish. But I also thought that it somehow just belonged on that shelf in my room. It was part of my life for so long, it just felt right leaving it at home. My last night home, in a lull before the excitement of leaving, I remember taking that yellow dump truck down and holding it one more time. It still had its magic; still made me smile; still made me feel happy. And I realized then that as scared (and excited) as I was to start a new life, to venture into the unknown future, I would be okay. I would be fine.

Years later, my mother and I were talking on the phone when she mentioned that one of my nephews was asking about the yellow dump truck. I was surprised. I hadn't thought about that yellow dump truck in some time. But thinking about it immediately made me smile, made me feel warm and joyful inside. I recalled my nieces and nephews would often come into my room and just stare at the yellow dump truck sitting on the shelf. Most times, I was nice and brought it down to let them play with it. But I just couldn't part with it. Not then. I needed it and I cherished it because it meant so much to me, more than I could explain. It wasn't just a toy--it was my hope, my happiness, my childhood wonder.

But as I talked with my Mom, I realized that maybe it was time to let that yellow dump truck go. I was pretty sure it would make my nephew happy. And it had given me so much joy over the years that it almost felt selfish to keep it on that shelf, rather than letting someone else enjoy it. So I told my mother to go ahead and give it to my nephew. She was surprised that I wanted to give it away; she'd always known that I was really fond of that yellow dump truck. But I told her that I was sure; I told her that the yellow dump truck brought me so much happiness, and perhaps it's time someone else got to feel some of that happiness.

I never saw that yellow dump truck again. Truth be told, I do miss it sometimes. When I went home to spend some time with my mother in her last days, I stayed in my old room. I remember not being able to sleep that first night, just laid awake in bed, just as I did many years ago when I was younger, listening music while a gentle breeze blew through the open window. I looked at the shelf and I suddenly realized that the yellow dump truck wasn't there anymore. For a second, I felt sad, missing its comfort and the joy it brought me. I thought, I could really use it now.

But then I realized that I still had those happy memories of that Christmas with me, memories that the yellow dump truck held for me. And thinking about those memories made me smile, made me happy, made feel like I was going to be all right. I knew that my mother would be passing on soon, and it would be a terrible and sad ordeal. It was going to be a painful experience. Yet, I knew that I would survive; I would go on; I would be fine. I had those happy memories to give me hope, to make me smile again, to know that I would be okay, live to find happiness again.

I have received so many wonderful Christmas presents over the years. But I still remember that yellow dump truck. It was a very special gift, because it meant so much to me. I miss it, and there are times when I wish I still had it. But I know that the truly important thing is that I still have those precious, happy memories of that Christmas when I got that yellow dump truck. They are what make me smile, make me feel joy, and make me think fondly of those I luv. So long as I remember them, I'll never lose them, I'll always have hope. And maybe in a way, I'll always have that yellow dump truck, because sometimes, hope is a yellow dump truck that brings happiness and love.


 Related Links:
Shoes
Holiday Dismay
Are you there, Santa? It's me
It's the Most Stressful Time of the Year
The thing about fathers
Best Laid Plans
Veterans Day Reflection
A good jacket keeps you warm and dry
The Boys of Summer
Brothers and Sisters


36 comments:

  1. Perfect Post Mr E. My grandad bought me a race track you could bend all over the furniture and a couple of cars one Christmas just before he passed away.That was one of the presents that stands out in my mind as just being the best ever , I had many more expensive cars and tracks after that , but none ever matched the first simple one , it was awesome.
    I havn't thought about it for years until your post bought all those happy memories flooding back. Thank you :-))

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  2. Thank you for bringing back memories of my yellow dump truck too!

    A shop in my village held a contest with a dump truck as the boy's prize and a doll as the girl's prize.

    I was one of the two lucky winners.

    Guess who had a tantrum when she found out she couldn't have the dump truck?

    That must have been some confused and disappointed little boy who went home with the doll.

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  3. I shouldn't have read this while at work, I got all weepy!

    This was a great story, I'm glad that you got so many happy memories and joy out of that toy. It was a special moment, too, when your mom let you and your brothers pick out any toy you wanted. It probably cheered her up and gave her a wonderful memory during such a sad time in your lives.

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  4. *sigh* what a beautiful story, sugar! xoxox

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  5. That is a wonderful story.

    Personally, I think I would try to find a Matchbox yellow dump truck and keep it handy when I need cheering up.

    Oh Hai MJ & Savannah!

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  6. Beast, That is a great memory! And such an awesome gift! I luved race cars and tracks when I was young, too. We used to carry those small race cars in our pockets when we went places--even church! We used to fake going to the restroom just so we'd go outside and play with them!

    You're right, nothing beats that first thrill and happiness from a great toy given by a luved one.

    MJ, Ha! That was too funny! You got what you wanted, contest rules be damned!

    Perhaps the little boy got a different gift--or who knows? He might've liked that doll!

    One year for Xmas, we had a distant relative send me and my brothers Barbie dolls! She was confused as to which of her relatives had boys and who had girls. We melted one of those doll heads, cut up one of the bodies to see the inside--it was like the terminator skeleton in the Barbie! Then my mother caught us, scolded us, and rescued the other two dolls and gave them away to someone's girls. Who says boys can't play with dolls?

    Tara, Thanks. You know, I was going to leave out the last half of that story and not mention my Dad; I had a feeling it might be too sad--and I'm trying to stop making people cry when they read my blog. It's suppose to be a happy holiday season! But the story felt incomplete, and I needed to tell why that toy was so significant in my life.

    It was a good Christmas. It got us through the hard times, and it's still a happy memory. I think my mother did enjoy that holiday season. I know she was happier than I'd seen her in while, and I know my brothers and I luved it.

    Savannah, Thank you! I've been pondering over the last few days whether I should post it or not...but in the end, I'm glad I shared it, because it's something that meant a lot to me growing up, and it's a perfect reminder of what's special and important about the holidays.

    XL, Thank you. I have been tempted to buy a yellow dump truck when I see it in the stores! :)

    It's kind of like Linus' blanket, having that yellow dump truck.

    I do confess that a few years ago, I bought a firetruck and a yellow dump truck as gifts to a friend's children--I was really tempted to keep them both. But in the end I had 'em gift wrapped and gave them to the kids, who luved them much more than the video game their parents got them. That made me smile, knowing that I made those kids happy.

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  7. Oh gawd why do Christmas stories need to be so sad..you're killin me here.

    What an incredibly well written stroll down memory lane..but I remember my first Christmas without Dad too. Even though I was in my early twenties, it was very painful because we were always close. I never thought about ife without him..like really without him..especially at that age when you are so self absorbed.

    I just took for granted that he'd be around to spoil his grandchildren all year. Gawd!

    My favorite Christmas was when I was about 8 too, that december my sister and I had the Flu. Chicken Pox and the Mumps!! I was in my pajamas for about 3 weeks and when Christmas came around I got spoiled with sympathy gifts.

    The best one, Papa Grizzly. A battery operated motorized plastic scary lookin' Bear that turned if you shot it with the dart gun. Awesome!

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  8. That was lovely, thanks so much for sharing!

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  9. This made me cry, but I'm so glad you shared it with us. There's the true spirit of Christmas [unlike that evil pageant moment that denied you you're bigger role]

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  10. Donn, Thank you. You know, I originally wanted to write a happy piece but it felt incomplete without the whole story. I was hoping to tell a story about hope. You're right; it is kind of shock when you lose a parent...a total life changing event. And if we're lucky, we remember all the good things about them, and try not to take every day (and luved ones) for granted.

    Boy, did you and your sister get a trinity of childhood diseases! On the plus side, you got to stay home from school and it is nice to get all them presents!

    That Papa Grizzly toy sounds like fun! My mother refused to buy us toys that fired projectiles, since my brothers and I usually ended up targeting each other.

    Ms Smuggersham, Welcome (back!), and thank you so much. I'm glad you enjoyed it.

    Snooze, Thank you. Sorry for the tears--I was afraid I was going to make people cry (which happens frequently on this blog--oh, cheese and crackers). Perhaps I ought to rename this blog, the TragiComedy. I was aiming for a happy story with meaning.

    But you're right. It was definitely more happy than the time I was robbed of my starring role in the Xmas pageant! Those bastards!

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  11. My Mum used to make me a cuddly toy every Christmas. The best was a mouse called Miffy [he was quite large]. I still have him, although his head is a bit wobbly now.
    But the thing is that all I wanted on Christmas morning was my new hand made cuddly toy.
    Sx

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  12. Another lovely story, Eros. It sounds like the perfect christmas remedy after losing your father. Thank you for sharing it.

    Like you and MJ, I had a yellow dump truck, too, and a digger and tractor that went with it. My sisters and I had great fun in the back yard with those toys.

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  13. Scarlet B, That sounds wonderful getting a custom made toy from your mom! It's cool that you still have that great toy. I miss the ones I had growing up.

    My mother made three sheep pillows one year (Pillows made to look like sheep). They were fun looking and comfortable--mine lasted til high school. One of my nephews was a toddler at the time and took a shine to that pillow when I babysat him. Eventually, he kept it with him as a fave toy/pillow, so I let him keep it.

    IDV, Thanks. It was a very good Christmas, just what we needed to know we'd be okay.

    I luv those construction trucks! They are a lot of fun to play with esp in the yard, without worrying about the parents getting on you for playing in the dirt.

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  14. XL, Thank you. Merry Christmas to you, too! I hope you're having a great time in Australia!

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  15. Merry Christmas to someone who makes the world a better place.

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  16. Scarlet B, Thank you for the holiday wishes. Merry Christmas to you, too!

    MJ, Thank you; that's really sweet. I can honestly say the same about you, because you remind us to enjoy life! Merry Christmas to you, too!

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  17. Have a very Merry Christmas, Eros! *hugs*

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  18. Aw, thank you, Tara! Merry Christmas to you, too!

    *Returns hugs*

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  19. Merry Christmas to you!!

    I loved your story.

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  20. Boxer, Thank you! I'm glad you enjoyed it. Merry Christmas to you, too!

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  21. Happy Xmas Mr E , I hope you have a day packed with festive fun

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  22. Thanks, Beast! Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to you!

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  23. My parents bought me more matchbox cars than I care to remember, but all I really wanted was the latest Barbie dolls.

    They later gave up and gave me what I wanted. Yes, her!

    http://farm3.static.flickr.com/2517/3707405472_185a510e00.jpg

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  24. CP, That's great that your parents finally gave you a gift you really liked. Those gifts make Xmas really fun and enjoyable! So much better than getting clothes or notebooks.

    Thank you and Happy Holidays to you, too!

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  25. That was FANTASTIC. Dont worry about the sad part. It was WONDERFUL!
    all my relatives were in their 70's and 80's and had no idea what to get a little kid, so I usually ended up with a lot of those snack assortment things from Hickory Farms and Jackson and Perkins. And I LOVED THEM! It wasn't until years and years later that I realized that not all 6 year olds get exotic mustards and hickory smoked summer sausage assortments for Christmas. I miss them still!

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  26. FN, Thank you! What a great story you're sharing! I luv those assorted snack things! I usually get a box or two for the holidays as gifts from people. And they are delicious and a cool gift for a six year old--totally something different, exotic, and unique from all the other kid gifts.

    Happy New Year!

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  27. Thank you for sharing that. Yes, I'm wiping my eyes. I'm so hard!

    Many hugs to you and yours.

    Hope you had a great Christmas and have a fantastic start to 2010.
    x

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  28. Roses, Thank you so much. Yeah, one of the hazards of reading my blog is that I sometimes end up writing tragic stories when I meant to just write about the uplifting happy stuff. But I hope I balance it out with the usual light, fun stuff I write every now and then.

    Hugs and best wishes back to you!

    Happy New Year to you!

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  29. Thanks, Beast! Happy New Year to you, too!

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  30. Happy New Year, you wonderful you!

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  31. Scarlet B, Thank you.

    Cheers!

    MJ, Thank you, you fantastic you!

    Cheers!

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