words // Zac Dubasik

I was never the type of kid that got in lots of trouble. My biggest offenses through probably middle school were things like sneaking extra cookies after dinner, and staying up too late at my grandparents’ house to watch American Gladiators and Headbanger’s Ball.

It was every year at Christmas time though that I would commit my worst crime: trying to find the hidden gifts. I wasn’t great at it. I knew a spot or two, but I mostly had to rely on getting lucky. I was an only child, and lived with both of my parents, so there weren’t even a lot of opportunities where I was able to search.

One of the biggest problems though was that once my parents bought the gifts, they were typically quick to wrap them. To this day, I save all wrapping for Christmas Eve – I obviously don’t take after them.

There was one particular Christmas though that my curiosity got the best of me, and I took that next step: carefully unwrapping and rewrapping a gift.

This particular box was calling my name. Its shape perfectly matched the size I imagined a box of Reebok Pumps (they were Twilight Zones, but I only knew them as the “Pumps”) would come in.

And since I purposely asked for only one gift that year, I knew it had to be them. So when I was briefly left home alone that December night, I knew I had to get a better look.

Although it was roughly 20 years ago, I still remember the wrapping paper even (light blue, with snowflakes). I slid my finger along one of the seams, and was able to get one side open with minimal damage. That opening was just enough that I could undo one entire side, and verify that I would soon be the owner of what I thought were the coolest pair of shoes possible at that moment.

You can probably guess where this is going. I didn’t get the Pumps in that box, or any box for that matter. Not getting the Pumps was bad enough. But what was truly awful was having to act surprised when I opened that blue table lamp, for the second time, on Christmas morning. The box that had caused me so much mystery literally had a table lamp in it. The box I risked unwrapping and rewrapping not only didn’t have the one gift I did want, it had a gift I’d never even considered wanting.

I hate to sound ungrateful. In fairness, I still own that lamp, and have gotten a ton of use out of it over the years. But as a kid, you just don’t fully appreciate a blue table lamp when what you were really hoping for was a pair of Reebok Pumps.

Sure, the shoes were expensive, and I didn’t really get extravagant gifts like that at the time. But it was the only thing I asked for! And I sure didn’t ask for a lamp.

I’ve given and received plenty of shoes for Christmas since, but that memory has stuck with me forever. It’s probably what I deserved for trying to get that early look. But the disappointment was very real at the time. Was there ever a pair you asked for, and either did or didn’t get? Or did you ever surprise someone else with a pair? Let’s hear your stories about Christmas kicks.