Susan Spess Shay

Still playing make believe.

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Best Gift Ever

When I think back over the years (and years AND YEARS) of Christmases that live in my memory, there’s one gift from my childhood that stands out with exclamation marks and sparkles.

I was probably ten years old at the time. I didn’t have anything big I really wanted for Christmas. Not that I had every toy, gadget and game in the world, but I had a bike and skates, and C-Town’s public library was full of great books to read. 

What could I ask for except another *stupid* doll. (With a house full of younger siblings, who needed a doll that couldn’t do anything but maybe cry crocodile tears and dampen its diaper?)

But I had a mother with a special insight into her kids–me at least. She knew I didn’t really enjoy dolls, although I never voiced it. I just didn’t play with them after I got them except to use them for target practice with my six shooters.

So she did me a great favor. She did something that unlocked a whole world for me, showed me there was more to life than what meets the naked eye, and drew a map to the impossible.

She gave me a microscope.  

It was a simple microscope with a built-in light and 3 strengths, the strongest being  maybe 1200. (Even children’s microscopes are much stronger than that now.) The gift came with several prepared slides and a few blank ones.

That evening Mom’s family came over for dinner and to share gifts, and while they were there, I got another memorable gift. I’m not talking about the hanky from Grandma or the little necklace from Aunt Betty (who really should have given me stretch pants. More on that one of these days.)

My cousin Buddy loved it when he heard I had the new ‘scope. (In high school, Buddy was an actor and wore taps on his shoes. If you read–or saw–The Outsiders by SE Hinton, that was Buddy’s generation set in the town where he lived.)

Buddy wanted me to know about just one of the things available to me with my new gift, so he poked his finger and bled on one of my blank slides so I could see the microscopic things in what I’d always thought was just a red liquid.   

But under the strong lens, I found there’s life in the blood!

Yeah, it’s still kind of gross, but that’s when that world of imagination opened up for me. If there was that kind of movement and goings on in one little drop of blood, what else was out there?

I tried looking at all kinds of things under that microscope. Dirty water. Plastic forks. Doll hair. Spit. Somethings were fascinating, others just a blob. Very slowly, though, I realized my best gift ever.

I don’t know if I was born with it or if my parents’ rubbed off on me. Maybe I’d been born with it and exercise developed it like a muscle. How I got it really doesn’t matter as long as I enjoy and employee it. 

My Imagination. My view into a world that isn’t there for anyone but me. A way of looking at things that doesn’t always make sense to anyone else.

And it’s wonderful.

How about giving us a gift today? You can share your best gift ever.

Ps: I don’t want to leave out the eternal gift that’s eternally better–Eternal Life.