It was Christmas 1983 and I was ready. No doubt my wishlist was long and detailed, but I’ve long forgotten what I requested. Except for one particular item.
I’d probably given up any hope of getting a Cabbage Patch Doll, or it might have been that E.T. and Star Wars didn’t hold my interest, perhaps I already had enough Smurf paraphernalia, but for some reason what I really wanted that year was Alvin. Of the chipmunk fame.
Many details of that time are fuzzy, but I remember giving my list to my dad and outlining specifically what I meant by “Chipmunk”.
“A stuffed one. You know, the singing ones. There’s Alvin, Simon, and Theodore. I’ll take any, but I’d really like Alvin. The one with the red shirt.”
He nodded and reassured me that we were on the same page, “Alvin. From the show. Got it,” and left to do some shopping (no illusions of Santa in my childhood).
Christmas arrived and I excitedly squeezed a very soft package with my name on it. Janice was written in his familiar printing. No need to sign it, I knew who it was from.
My turn finally arrived and I tore into that package, confident Alvin was waiting for me. Yes! Got my chipmunk!
Oh, I got my chipmunk alright. Meet my Alvin.
I had asked for a chipmunk and a chipmunk is what I got. I have to give eight-year-old me credit, I grinned and hugged it and gave my dad a big hug. He was so happy. He had no idea that this was not the chipmunk I had had in mind.
He was so happy.
Maybe on some level 1983-me knew the lengths he would have gone to to find a stuffed chipmunk. A stuffed chipmunk. Think about it: a realistic-looking chipmunk plushy toy. Alvin the Chipmunk could be found in any major chain store, but a chipmunk stuffy? That took a lot of effort.
It was not what I had asked for, but I got what I needed. Despite running a business, having a sick child, and raising four kids, my dad made time to get my Christmas present. It was perfect.
Despite all the stress and worry and anxiety he had, I mattered.
This is one of my favourite Christmas stories: that time I asked for Alvin, but instead got the gift of sacrifice, love, and the importance of being gracious and grateful.
He’d gotten me exactly what I had asked for. And I was so happy.