Monday, November 12, 2007



I really want to love this man and give him a great big hug and say, on behalf of all the children, thank you! Really I do. I want to wax rhapsodic about his jolly spirit of giving with unbridled ecstasy and unparalled gratitude.

But I can't. Because from personal experience, I can tell you that, in this climate, there is nothing more tragic than receiving a bicycle for Christmas. Really. Just hear me out. Then poo-poo me all you want.

There's no argument that a bike always makes for a magnificent, magical moment when its discovered placed just so in front of a glistening tree on Christmas morning. But then a harsh -- and a literal cold -- reality hits. You can't ride it. Even as a seven-year-old, you know this shit.

It's icy out. It's snowy out. It's freeeeezing. And God only knows when this is going to change. Days seem like months and months seem like years to a kid.

I remember my first shiny red (they all used to be shiny and red) bike. It had no gears, and somewhat intimidating fenders (my mother's first attempt at keeping the boys away, I think). And I clearly recall pleading with my mother to take it out on Christmas day for a glorious maiden voyage that I'd love to share with you, but I can't. Because the roads were covered with snow.

"No! Are you crazy? You can't ride a bicycle out there in this weather!" (Talk about the pot calling the kettle black, mom.)

The Christmas bicycle tradition of giving would continue until I was 16, and had worked my way up to a sleek blue ten-speed with ram horn handlebars. (We didn't get cars like kids get today, guys.)

You would think that I would have remembered this as an adult, with my own children. But no, there is something in the soul that subconsciously wants to torment your children the way you were tormented. So when my older two were small, they both got bikes one year. And they couldn't ride them. All they could do was admire them, and maybe cruise them across the living room.

It was after that fateful Christmas morning when I realized I was repeating the proverbial mistakes of the past that I vowed to never give a bike for a Christmas gift again. It's heartbreaking. The waiting ... and the waiting. The staring at the bike. Then the eventual storing of the bike. The realization that you've given Huffy money you could have invested in a short-term CD. Sad, sad, sad.

Since the kids have birthdays in April and May, I promised myself that's when they'd get a new bike -- if they needed it.

The cycle of heartbreak had to end, once and for all.

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