by Patricia Bhatia
The memories of each Christmas past are special in themselves. Yet, the memory of my fourteenth Christmas is the one that I treasure the most. It touched my heart in so many ways that, should my memories ever fade-- I hope to hold on to this one until the last.

It certainly didn't start out as the best Christmas.

I had spent all the money that I had saved from my part time job on presents and every penny of the $800 was gone. Part of me was very excited to see the looks on the faces of my family as they opened the presents that I'd carefully bought and wrapped. But being a teenager, and naturally self-absorbed, I was more intent on discovering what was for me among the presents under the tree.

My disappointment and anger grew with every present I opened.

I got a curling iron, that I knew cost just 8 bucks at Zellers. Another gift, was from the San Francisco store, a $4 compact of makeup that would clog my pores.

I felt gypped and ripped off. For the $800 I had blown, I got less than $50 worth in return.

Then I opened the last of my presents, and my fury dissipated. My brother, then just 2, had wrapped in a scrap of paper and copious amounts of tape a tiny teddy bear, a favorite from his own collection.

Like Dr. Suess's Grinch, my heart grew 3 sizes. The best present that I received didn't cost the giver a penny. Yet, to this day, it means more to me than the most extravagant of gifts. To this day I have that bear, and I'll never part with it.

Still the memory is not over, for the day was better yet.

The day was warm, as not many Christmases in Edmonton are. Shortly after noon, we four siblings journeyed to the park at the school across the street. We swung on the swings, crazy-carpeted down the hill. Then we put on our skates and circled round the rink. We took full advantage of this Christmas blessing, not knowing that it would be our last together.

It seems that hours passed before we returned home. Red cheeked and laughing, we walked hand in hand. The presents we had received that morning had long been forgotten. The beauty of this day was in the time we spent together, enjoying each otherís company and not fighting in our usual way.

Once home we were greeted by cookies and hot chocolate. To this day the smell of cocoa reminds me of that day.

That was the last holiday we celebrated together. By Easter I had moved west to live with my mother, leaving behind my father, stepmother and half siblings. This coming Christmas my sisters are coming. I know the memories we create this year will rival the one fourteen years ago.

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