A Christmas Tale

“I wish I had a bicycle.”

“I wish I had a tricycle.”

I was six–my sister five. We sat on the squeaky blue porch swing that my dad attached to the old rusty swing-set in our front yard and made wishes. A friend at school had told us that if we wished hard enough, out loud, our wish would come true. We believed her.

“I wish I had a bicycle, I wish I had a bicycle,” went my sing-song voice, again and again, echoed by my sister’s, “I wish I had a tricycle, I wish I had a tricycle.”

The sun was shining but the weather had turned crisp. It would not be long before old man winter sought us out and put an end to our swinging days. I could see my dad and the boys cutting up dead tree trunks in the distance. The logs they stacked into neat piles would be used to feed our smoky fireplace during the long, cold winter. Many of the rooms in our drafty, old house were missing radiators, so we counted on the kitchen fireplace for heat.

On this particular day, we had been sent outside to play–probably to give my mother time to complete her chores.

‘I wish I had a bicycle.’
How I wanted a bicycle! I didn’t care what color it was but it must have a banana seat, a basket, a horn to alert wary pedestrians to get out of the way, and colorful streamers flowing from the handlebars. I imagined myself, hair down my back and nose to the wind, sniffing out adventures, as I pedaled furiously through our neighborhood.

“I wish I had a tricycle.” My sister had not yet learned to ride a bike but held similar dreams of her own.

We continued to swing back and forth, repeating our wishes for hours until our throats were dry and our heads ached. No one could hear us except the wind and the squirrels gathering nuts in the trees. On and on it went, until finally my mother called us in to dinner.

I don’t remember the remaining days, weeks and months leading up to Christmas. What I do recall is in our family of fifteen, there was little money for toys. Any we had were hand-me-downs or worn out and broken. It seemed an impossible dream that we, the youngest of the bunch, could receive our Christmas wish.

Missing present
Christmas morning dawned clear and bright. Snow had fallen softly in the night and lay upon our front yard like a white, glistening blanket. My sister and I poked among the presents, but none of them were even close to the size of a bicycle or tricycle. We didn’t count on our wishes coming true.

In the flurry of torn wrapping paper that followed, I forgot about our wishes. I didn’t even notice that my sister hadn’t received a gift until every present under the tree had been opened. I knew Santa had a lot of houses to get to, but I couldn’t believe he had forgotten my sister on Christmas!

My dad noticed the missing present, too. “You haven’t gotten one gift? Do you think maybe you were bad this year?”

“No,” my sister said, her eyes wide with unshed tears.

“Wait a minute. I think maybe Santa did leave you something. It was just too big to get down the chimney.”

My father led us all down the stairs and into the cellar. We advanced into the furnace room, and there it was, a shiny, new blue tricycle with a horn.

Her wish had come true!

I don’t remember being sad for myself, as I had received a set of dolls and a dollhouse. And I was happy to see my little sis with such a beautiful tricycle.

It was only later, after all the decorations had been packed away in the attic and we had moved on to spring and then summer, that I was reminded of our Christmas wishes. An older sister was gifted with a brand new adult bike by a favorite uncle. And I? Well…I inherited her old, purple bike–banana seat, basket, horn, streamers, and all.

Merry Christmas! May you ask for and receive your dearest wishes.

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6 thoughts on “A Christmas Tale”

  1. That is such great story! When I was five, I, too, had been told that if you wished hard enough, out loud, your wish would come true. My five-year-old best friend and I both wanted a vanity for Christmas. For months, we sat on my back porch, each wishing for a vanity of our own. That Christmas, Santa brought me a vanity with a beautiful pink skirt. I thought it truly was a gift from heaven! How could Santa possibly have known? That little vanity has traveled with me through the years. The pretty pink skirt is gone, and time has taken quite a toll on it, but I can’t bear to part with it. Even when faced with the dilemma of where to put it, it stays. Today it functions quite nicely as a printer stand. I had long ago forgotten just what makes that vanity so special until I read your story! It was the wish that came true that one very magical Christmas.

    1. What a cool story and so similar to mine. I’m glad you kept the vanity. Sounds like it’s a useful piece of furniture, too. The sad thing for me is there are no pictures of my purple hand-me-down bike, and it’s long since gone. Same is true of my sister’s blue tricycle. They live on in my memory though:)

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