Friday, December 10, 2010

Jack-In-The-Box (A Little Christmas Story)

When purchasing presents for Brenna, I have to say, it can be a challenge at times.  When you ask what she might like for her birthday, for instance, her usual reply is, "I don't know." One might give some suggestions that she could agree with, or not. When she was little I would ask people to give us a park with nice kids in it. Including swings and perfect weather. Not that we ever got it, but I thought it was a great idea.
 For years the answer was, "A baby doll." Then she would get several and be overwhelmed and not play with any of them except for one or two of her favorites. 

Brenna is not one to have long lists that she makes . She doesn't particularly recall what she does have unless she sees it. (Geez. She sounds like me.) She isn't really focused on any one thing right now, and is very happy to get gifts, no matter what they are. Sometimes she will be specific about something she would like, but not in general. She isn't one to play by herself. We have a WII, she has a Nintendo DS, and educational computer games, but they just aren't fun for her unless someone is doing it with her or watching what she is doing. The girl does love an audience.
Games are good, gift cards are fun at this age, clothing not so fun.

 Which brings me to the subject of age. What is an appropriate gift for a 16 yr. old? Well, I think back to Lauren and recall music, jewelry, clothing, crafts, etc. But there is a fine line with Brenna and her likes and dislikes. Is it "appropriate" that she still loves to play with her baby doll? Or is it "appropriate" that one of her favorite games of all times is still Candy Land? Shouldn't she be on to bigger and more age appropriate things? Isn't it my job to guide her in those directions?  Then again, why would I push her in the direction of something she isn't interested in?
I actually have come to despise the word appropriate. Well, O.K. when she uses her pouty face and tears to get her way, that's not so appropriate....but for the most part, if left to her own devices she is very happy and fun-loving, isn't politically incorrect-and she tends to disarm people with her frankness and they realize that a lot of societal "no-no's" aren't really that big of a deal. But I digress.

This year, Brenna surprised me and said, "Mom. I know what I want for Christmas." "Really?" I replied. "Yup. I want a Jack-In-The -Box." " A what???" "YOU know, like the one that the guy in  that movie Elf played with." What the heck am I supposed to say to that? It's a grown man, thoroughly enjoying toys and loving life with the simplicity of a child. Plus, she hasn't seen the movie in a year. Where on earth did she conjure up THAT memory??  Well, the practical side got ahold of me and I said, "Oh, Brenna. I think you are too old for a jack-in-the-box." Dear Lord. You would have thought I told her there was no Santa by the look of disappointment on her face. (Now, there's an age appropriate topic for you.) "Oh." was her dejected reply. "But it would really be fun." Fabulous. I re-directed the thought process by suggesting movies instead. You know. More appropriate things.

Today I was in Lowe's Hardware store. I never go there, I usually go to Home Depot, but they built a Lowe's close to our home and it's handier, so in I went to get some spray for decopauging an old t.v. tray I found. I wandered into the Christmas isle. I always like to see the sparkly decorations. As I was meandering down the isle, guess what I saw? Oh yeah. Of course.

 Staring me down like a big dare was a cherry red Rudolph the Red-Nose Reindeer Jack-In-The-Box

Now, I'm not usually one who is prone to swearing, but at the sight of that reindeer I confess. I did. Not out loud, but I did. NOW WHAT???? Do I give in and bring home a not-too age appropriate gift to my child or do I hold firm and steer her to something that other 16yr. old girls like? Like a car? Right. Like Justin Bieber? Not in this lifetime.

The reindeer won out. Big time. Without another thought (besides "what the hell,") I put it lovingly in my cart, paid for it and brought it home. Then I gave it to my daughter as soon as she walked in the door from school. I did! I didn't put it under the tree, I didn't wait, nothing. I had Brenna close her eyes and put out her hands and when she opened her eyes and took the Lowe's bag and opened it....oh., my. You should have seen her face.  Utter surprise. Sheer joy. Brenna took it to the table and set it down and began to wind it. It plays just like a Jack-In-The-Box. You know, the little tinkly music that goes slow or fast depending on how you turn the handle?( Except this tune isn't Pop Goes the Weasel, it's the actual song, Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer.)

 Then, BAM!!!! Out pops Rudolph and his red nose. Wheeee! What fun! What laughter!!!! What surprise and shock!!! Brenna then got up, came over to me and put her arms around me and said, "Thanks, Mom."

So. Age appropriate? A new collection for Christmas, perhaps? Who really gives a flip in the long run? It will come out at Christmas time every year and I hope we all still get the fun shock of seeing that silly red nose pop out of a bright red box.

I am adding to the end of this story....four days after writing this, Rudolph ceased to pop out of his box. No joke. We took him back to Lowe's to exchange it for another one, but - oh yeah. Of Course. THEY WERE SOLD OUT. No, you cannot find them on the internet. 
I looked at Brenna and said, "Are you O.K.??"
"Yes," she said, "But I'm a little sad."
We do have one more Lowe's in town and I will be going there today to see if they have any Rudolph Jack-In-The-Boxes!!!
Wish me luck.

(this story will be linked up to Inspiration Friday over at Vanessa's place, Southern In My Heart. Come join us!)


  1. OH Lynn...the best present ever! Hope you find another one! Beautiful, heartwarming post!

  2. With tears streaming down my face I write this comment. I hope you find another one and I will look for you as well. That dear precious child that we have all come to love deserves a Jack In The Box that works! Lynn, she is such a blessing and who are any of us to say something is not apporiate for her. Each of us knows what is our hearts delight, if that is a Jack In The Box so be it. I play with dolls occasionally still and I am 55!

  3. Hi Lynn,

    Add me to the list. I'll check at our local Lowe's to see if I can find one for you. It's like the Grinch just stole Christmas!


  4. Oh Lynn! You did it to me again! I am writing this with tears in my eyes and just love this post so much. You are such a wonderful mom to this blessing of a daughter you have and I think you showed great wisdom in allowing her to just be where she is and not push her into what the world deems "appropriate". Why would we rob someone of joy because we think they should be past it all? Even if that reindeer never pops up again, you will always have that memory of her face when she saw it to cherish forever. Thank you for sharing this with us and for being such a good example of embracing and loving folks just as they are! :-)

  5. What is all this age appropriate crap??? I am so NOT age appropriate & yet when your as old as me.. who cares, I'm just a crazy old Monga! LOL
    I still have a vintage Skipper & Midge in a vintage Barbie case that I take out & change the clothes on every now & then & ask my husband which outfit he likes best, plus my daughter got me the Barbie Mystery Date Game for a gift awhile back & I will play that with anyone willing to sit with me for longer then 10 minutes!Now my thoughts on Jack-In-The- Boxes...I never liked them cuz I'm scared of clowns {I think it has something to do with Red Skelton}, but a Rudolph Jack/Box...that ROCKS!!! I want one too & Lowes hadbetter live up to their obligation & get more, as I'm sure Brenna isn't the only 16 or 54 year old girl out there wanting one!!!
    Big Hugs Good Mommy...

  6. Oh Lynn what a great post! Did you have any luck with the other Lowes?? You must let us know. I will check around too. Is there anyway to open it up and see if something got loose on the inside? Ack, we need to get this working!

  7. what a precious story Lynn

    we should all have some of Brenna's playfulness ... it is too easily lost in our "appropriate" order of things

    I adore the happy delighted look on her face...it really put a smile on my face...thank you!

  8. that smile of joy you posted of her looks pretty darned age appropriate and would melt a heart of any age. On the eve of turning 60, what makes my heart skip? Bubbles, a bunch of helium balloons, roller skating, riding a bike, big baggy flannel shirts, laughing until I wet my pants (which happens way sooner now than 55 years ago, flying kites, and hugs. Joy is never inappropriate, and the heart loves what it loves. And if you can't find another xmas jack-in-the-box? Get a regular one, please :-)Especially one from a specialty toy store that costs lots and lots of money, because it will last forever and she'll love it until she's 100 years old. Wish I knew how to make one...we could customize it!! Favorite song, favorite pop up character...hmmm, anyone know how????

  9. Hearing how much joy you brought to Brenna, made my mother's heart sing with joy!!! Ohhh, Lynn! May she always be a child at heart. Jerry Lewis said that "inside" he still "feels as though I'm 9", and the man is in his 80's!!! May Brenna always be nine "inside"!!! She'll grow up soon enough. Hugs, Terri xoxoxo

    PS I hope you find another wonderful jack in the box!!!!

  10. This is precious! I SO hope you find another "Rudolf in a Box"! He was so cute! What a clever idea! And that smile! Aww! Priceless!

  11. What a lovely story. Thank you for sharing it.

  12. I hope my daughter isn't doing at 16 what I was doing at 16....I hope she can hold on to playfulness and innocence and imagination as long as she can....

    I'd buy the Jack in the box, too...without even thinking twice!