There is so much expectation at Christmas and subsequently ample opportunity for misunderstanding and disappointment.
I don’t recall exactly how old I was but let’s assume I was about twelve, that age when despite still being a child, you are beginning to see yourself as leaving childhood behind and setting off on the path to adulthood. With this in mind, I desperately wanted some tights, proper grown-up tights, because I was ready to leave those childhood socks behind. If I was striding along the road to adulthood, I wanted to do it in legs adorned with flesh-coloured nylon as opposed to white, cotton knee-high socks.
Oh joy, oh joy, when I was handed the gift-wrapped package so evidently containing the coveted symbol of womanhood. I savoured its opening, carefully removing the tape, enjoying the feeling of heady anticipation, imagining my legs encased in the transformative material which announced to the world that here I was: the new, mature version of my former self. I unfolded the paper slowly, corner by corner, excitement fluttering in my stomach, to reveal…
Oh horror, oh horror, a grotesque pair of white lacy tights of the type that five year olds wore with sugar sweet party dresses to birthday celebrations. I tried to disguise my disappointment, drowning in the humiliating distress of my parents’ inability to recognise that I was no longer a child. I couldn’t possibily wear them; I’d be a laughing stock.
“They weren’t what you wanted,” my parents later acknowledged, my distaste having been impossible to hide, and I promptly burst into tears, thus proving to everyone that I was a thoroughly grown up young lady.