I’ve been thinking about my aunt’s comment about my family being greedy. Aside from when I used to beg for stuff online and my general wish that my family had a better quality of life, the only time I can remember wanting what I couldn’t have so strongly was at Christmas. I used to make out lists for my entire family–well, for my parents, grandparents, aunt Barbara, and Santa.1 Aunt Cecelia didn’t get a list because she lived almost 400 miles away and I never really saw her. Besides, she would send care packages every month and checks for Christmas and my birthday. Eric and Eileen got one or two lists because I was told to make one out for them. I don’t remember if my great-grandparents got lists or not. Anyway, when I was really young, the lists would be several pages long. The lists got shorter as I grew up. And my last list may have had about 5 things to choose from.2
Even though the lists were long, I didn’t really expect all of the stuff. They were just things that I thought would be cool to have. Each item was something I saw in catalogs, magazines, or on television. Each person’s list was different and would contain items that I thought went with their income level.3 ((My mom is still of the opinion that I didn’t know that we were poor when I was younger.)) Barbara’s lists (as well as Santa’s) were always the ones that contained the most expensive items because I knew that she was better off financially than anyone else in the family and that Santa had to be loaded.
So I guess as a kid that I was sort of greedy. The thing is that I was actually really happy with cheap stuff. I never got a Barbie Dream House or Easy Bake Oven or the Mall Madness game, but I knew that when it came right down to it, the stuff I got was awesome and I was lucky to get it. I treasured the things I got, like when she got me the Monopoly game in 1991. As soon as we got home from Uncle Raymond’s house that year, my parents and I were playing it. I was so excited because it was meant for players 8 and up, and I wasn’t turning 8 for two more months. I was also happy because that game gave me a chance to play with both of my parents, which had become really rare–my dad worked 80 hour weeks for Radio Shack and my mom had been injured in 2 car crashes in 1991.
And I remember that in 1998 my aunt probably spent, for lack of a better term, a buttload of money on this huge box that was filled with books about the R.M.S. Titanic, Titanic movie posters, a Titanic t-shirt, Leonardo DiCaprio books, movies, and posters. She also got me the Good Will Hunting video that year. I had my bedroom decorated with those posters by the time that school started back in January. I still have those posters (except 1), books, and videos. (The t-shirt and one of the posters went with Stephanie when she moved in with her Aunt Darlene.)
I always loved the things that she got me when I was younger, not for what they cost, but because I thought they came from someone who valued me. And even though I could never afford to get her expensive gifts, when I could afford to buy her anything at all, I always tried to make sure that it was something that she would treasure or at least appreciate in some way. I always wanted her to be happy with me, to love me. And now I get to deal with the idea that maybe I never was as important to her as she was to me.