Christmas is supposedly a time of miracles. During my 7th grade year, I needed one; my future happiness depended solely on the acquisition of a keyboard, a Casio with glistening white plastic keys. For me, it exploded the technological barriers of the early-nineties. Somehow, in my seventh grade mind, a keyboard had become the symbol of popularity and ease. I would finally be beautiful. I would finally be popular. I would have a keyboard.
When my mom told me that my family couldn’t afford a keyboard that year, I did not accept it. She can’t admit she’s buying me one because then she’d ruin the surprise, I rationalized. I even invented the means by which it would come to pass. I would obtain my keyboard by calling on the powers of the universe. I would witness my first Christmas miracle.
I wanted this keyboard, I thought, more than anyone had ever wanted anything in the history of humanity. According to my adolescent logic, desire made you worthy of the desired object – and the more intense the desire, the more likely it was that the universe would give it to you. A concept personified in books and movies like Charlie and The Chocolate Factory. Charlie’s desire had landed him not only the golden ticket, but the entire factory. Only I didn’t want just chocolate, a silly addictive candy. I wanted something much more noble – an instrument to change my lack of training and talent miraculously into stunning genius. If the universe required desire, desire it would get.
I suppose kids this year are wishing for iPods with the same severe passion – similarly testing the powers of the universe.
In order to satisfy its strange ways, I relentlessly concentrated all my thoughts on the keyboard. If my mind wandered into thinking about the well-being of any of my friends, I would curse myself. If I neglected contemplative focus on the keyboard in order to listen to my teacher, I’d kick my shin with my other heel, and furiously doodle music notes instead of doing my assignment.
My mom kept asking me what I really wanted for Christmas, and her questions only solidified my resolve. To exhibit my faith in the universe, every time she asked, I would say four little words and walk off triumphantly. “I want a keyboard.”
With my thoughts fixated thoroughly on the keyboard in spite of chores, and boys, and homework, I called on interstellar magic to summon the Christmas miracle. A miracle like I had read about in books and heard about in Sunday school lessons.
Days before Christmas, a long, wide, shallow box showed up under the tree. The box was the exact size and shape of a keyboard, and had been placed in a cloth bag my mother had made to reuse over and over every Christmas to avoid the expense and environmental waste of wrapping paper. My eyes, now endowed with supernatural powers, could see right through the fabric. I could see the neon colored buttons that controlled the volume. I could even smell the black plastic vents that covered the speakers. The stars had finally aligned. For once in my life, I would get exactly what I wanted.
My poor mother kept insisting that it wasn’t a keyboard. What else would be shaped exactly like a keyboard box? An oversized version of monopoly? I racked my brain, but couldn’t think of anything reasonable. It had to be a keyboard. My mom must have been hell bent on trying to surprise me.
On the morning of Christmas, I woke up and made everyone else open their gifts first. Remarkably, I had a few other gifts in addition to the long thin box. The universe must have rallied around me. To get the usual socks, orange, lip-gloss and a keyboard was a miracle indeed.
After every other package had been opened, my mom looked at me sadly, and choked, “Polly, aren’t you going to open your gift?”
. . . to be continued