The Christmas of 1964 comes close to bringing tears to my eyes even today. We only got presents twice a year: birthday and Christmas. We each got three presents. Often what we got was clearly a cheaper version of what we wanted, but imagination made up the difference.
But the Christmas of 1964 we only got one present each--and it wasn't even close to anything we wanted. I wanted toy soldiers or something military or space. I opened my one present and it was a red bull-dozer. My younger sister expressed disappointment when she saw what little she got. I would have, too--but in that instant I caught myself. In that instant I realized how very, very tight money must be for our folks if this was all they could afford to give us. Suddenly I knew how very, very important it was for me to smile and thank them.
I made it a point to be seen playing with that red bull-dozer often over the next couple of weeks. It was a toy I would hardly ever have picked up, but I knew it was very important Mom and Dad know their sacrifice that year had not been in vain. I believe I succeeded in doing what few children ever do: I pulled one over on Mom and Dad.
Mom passed away the next year and Dad a few years ago. I never told them. They never knew I crossed an important threshold in growing up that year.