When I was nine I wanted an Atari 2600 more than anything. I pestered my mom all fall for an Atari at Christmas, but I knew this was a bit expensive for our family. My mom just kept saying no, we can't afford that, I'll get you something nice and you can play with your friends' Ataris.

But my mom found a way and bought the Atari mid-December and hid it in the house. I know this because my sister hinted just a little bit and I figured it out and prowled around the scary garage closet until I found it. I was so excited that I couldn't wait until Christmas, so I told my Mom I'd found it. In my nine year old logic that meant she'd give it to me early.

My Mom was devastated that her surprise was ruined. She took Christmas seriously, doubly so with such an expensive gift. I remember her crying. I remember her getting mad and telling me she was going to take the Atari back to the store since I'd ruined the gift. And she did. I went sneaking around the house and couldn't find it. Christmas Eve all my presents were under the tree, but no box big enough for an Atari.

I was sad, but I was well enough behaved not to sulk at Christmastime. Santa had come and there was candy in the stockings, and mom made a special breakfast, and all was fine. Then I opened my smallest present, and it was an Atari 2600 joystick. My second smallest present was an Atari cartridge. And so on. My mom had broken the Atari up into lots of little boxes and wrapped each one individually. I was the happiest kid ever.

  2005-12-17 17:50 Z