i bet you think i'm going to say peace on earth or the love of family and friends or some such thing, huh?
yeah, yeah, that's all well and good... but no, the greatest Christmas present ever was from an elf named Lemdel.
i can't remember how old i was, but it was around the time of the Cabbage Patch Kids craze. remember phase two of this fad? KOOSAS - the cabbage patch pets!
i wanted the dog one, with a brown eye patch. (or as i believe i put it on my letter to santa - "a black-eyed akoooza")
this letter to santa was followed by many conversations with my parents, in which they explained santa's workshop was all out of the black-eyed koosas and wouldn't i want a different one? no, just the black-eyed one. (i wasn't spoiled at all. nope, not me.) mom and dad even put in a personal call to santa, they explained, but he just did not have time to make any new toys, and surely some other koosa would be fine, right? no, santa will figure it out. (really, i was darling.)
around the same time, i remember seeing something on TV that looked like a stampede of adults climbing shelves in Toys R Us, trying to grab the last Koosas. i guess they all got the same messages from santa about the toy shop being all out. i still had faith in the jolly old guy.
my parents came home looking frazzled sometimes too, and trying to talk me into different toy ideas, but my list was unshakable.
anyway, every year, on top of the gifts under the tree... Christmas morning, an additional pile of presents would appear - all wrapped in special red santa paper. that Christmas, there was one extra present on the pile - wrapped in green elf paper instead. a long letter attached to the present in special elf handwriting (that looked an awful lot like professional caligraphy, now that i think about it) was addressed to me. the letter explained that i'd been such a good girl (all evidence to the contrary) and that i deserved a very special present. so even though santa was very busy, one of his helpers - the one writing the letter - had taken time to make one extra present just for me. it was signed: Lemdel, the Elf.
i guess you know what was inside. i still have my black-eyed Koosa, who is named, of course, Lemdel.
best. Christmas. present. EVER.
there is a sequel to this tale - an adventure/mystery in which Lemdel goes missing, sparking a desperate search that ends with Lemdel nearly getting thrown out with the trash only to be saved at the last possible second.
story for another time.