The Christmas Bike Surprise
When I was 8, like every other kid, for Christmas, I wanted a bike more than anything else. I didnt want a Barbie (although I got one). I didnt want any new Nancy Drew books (got a few of those too). All I wanted in the whole, wide world was a bike. I didnt care what color it was or what brand it was. I just wanted a bike.
I lived in a neighborhood that was primarily boys. There was one girl who lived across the street but she was "prissy". Even her name was prissy. Melanie always had a dress on and didnt want to get dirty. I, on the other hand, had no problem getting dirty and loved to hang out with the boys doing whatever they were doing. To please my mother, I tried to play with Melanie, but the lure of the creek by our house and hanging with the guys, was just too strong.
Looking back, I must have been a major pain in the ass to them. I was younger than all of them, AND I was a girl. I had two boy cousins, Charlie and Jerry. We lived in a 2 family house and they were more brothers than cousins to me, so I think they paved the way for me to be as accepted as I was in the "fraternal order of boys of Kroger Ave. club". So the other guys tolerated me and taught me how to do things that most girls didnt know how to do and probably never wanted to know how to do!
They all had bikes. And when they rode their bikes, I was left out and I hated being left out. So yes...I wanted a bike.
On Christmas morning, I was sure I would have my bike. I ran into the living room, saw the Barbie, saw the books, saw some clothes, but didnt see a bike. I was devastated. My parents explained that maybe next year Santa would bring me my bike, but when youre that age, a whole year may as well be a lifetime.
I gave the Barbie doll a half-hearted check of approval and the same with the Nancy Drew books and resigned myself to a bike-less life. Later that day, my Mom was in the kitchen fixing the big Christmas dinner we always hosted and asked me to go to the basement to get something she needed.
I went, grumbling all the way. I can remember waking down the steps to the basement still feeling like I wanted to cry. When I got to the last step, I heard my Dad's voice calling my name. I had no idea why he was down there. He asked me to come out to the garage and close my eyes.
Can you guess what I saw standing there in all its shiny glory when I opened my eyes?
There was no kid in the entire city of Cincinnati, happier that Christmas, than me.
My Dad wasnt the sort to just hand you a gift. He made a big production out of the things that he knew were really important.
I threw my arms around my Daddy and cried. Im pretty sure there might have been a tear or two from him as well.
Yes, he taught me to ride it. My cousins, Charlie and Jerry, also taught me to ride and once those training wheels were off, there was no stopping me and the boys in the neighborhood from all the wonderful adventures kids back then could find.
A few years later I got an English Racer. The “cadillac” of bikes supposedly. It was a cool bike, but nothing in the world could ever replace that first bike...the one I didnt think I would ever get.
My Dad has been dead 50 years. Im remembering how great a Dad he was.
This is one of those memories that will remain with me forever. Time hasnt diminished the impact of that day, or of the man who made that Christmas day so very special.