I set my sights on a beautiful electronic convertible by Power Wheels. The classic convertible would give me just the kind of freedom (within an acre) that I was seeking. The ride-in, motorized, toy car was as elegant as it was stylish. In addition to the independence these wheels would obviously provide, the convertible offered something even better: a trunk that opened up to create a seat for a doll or stuffed animal. I could just imagine it: Me and my favorite red-headed Cabbage Patch Kid, Stacia Jenny, hitting the open yard with the wind blowing through our hair/yarn. I knew that convertible was just the ticket.
I dutifully circled the convertible in the Toys ‘R Us catalog. There were a few other things that I wanted, but my heart longed for that convertible. Stacia and I could ride to all of our favorite destinations: the garage, the bonfire pit, and my playhouse. I could taste the liberty.
My mother reviewed my choices. She agreed that the convertible was a beautiful specimen, but she warned me that if Santa brought me that convertible, it would probably be the only thing I would get because of its high value (and clearly its propensity to outshine all other gifts). I assured her that was fine because it had a seat for Stacia and that was all I needed.
I waited for the weeks and days to pass. I reviewed my selections in the Toys ‘R Us catalog and my resolve slowly began to wane. I mean, surely Santa didn’t only bring one present to kids on Christmas, right? Especially if a child’s older brother was going to get multiple presents. I appraised my brother’s selections and knew that he had asked for several less expensive items. And then I had a vision – or maybe a prophecy – in which I saw my brother showered with presents, while I sat with only one gift to my name. A spectacular gift, but only one.
And that’s when I cracked. My childhood desire for quantity over quality, and my inability to comprehend a world in which my brother got more presents, finally won out. I erased the circle I had around my beautiful convertible and circled several less expensive selections.
To this day, I cannot tell you what I received for that Christmas, but I can tell you that envy stole my freedom and Stacia Jenny never looked at me the same way again.