By Jean Mlincek
As a kid, I hated it when Mom would drag out her perennial "Christmas story" about getting a mere orange in her Christmas stocking, and being eternally grateful for it. The story usually surfaced when I was composing my Christmas Wish List, typically deflating any joy I had in writing such a list, because, according to my Mom, unless I appreciated how thrilled children back then were to receive a simple orange for Christmas, I didn't know the true meaning of Christmas.
Yes, I understood that economic times were hard in her day, but, hey, an orange just didn't hold the same currency for me or any other normal kid in my generation. My generation was more into non-edible gifts. But the way my Mom went on and on about that orange was unbelievable. Trust me, if it had been up to my Mom, there would have been a TV movie titled "It's A Wonderful Orange", with or without Jimmy Stewart, and it would have been on every TV screen on this Planet, 24/7, for the entire month of December. Some Christmas stories are worth repeating over and over, even to this day. The tale of Ebenezer Scrooge, the cheap creep with no affinity for merriment, never grows old.
Or take the Grinch who stole Christmas, or poor Rudolph, who was the first true "rescue animal", except that he rescued us instead of vice versa. As a kid, I loved hearing those stories over and over and over again. They never wearied me. The story of the orange? Not so much. Still, every Christmas, my siblings and I heard how thankful my Mom-as-a-child was to receive that precious orange, ad nauseum.
I didn't get it. Not as a kid, not now. It was inconceivable to me that any child with a sound mind would fawn over a piece of fruit. Any piece of fruit! Imagine a kid today asking Santa for, say, a banana.
The kid would be institutionalized. But, hey, if kids back then cherished their orange, I would have told them, "Have yourself a merry little citrus." Just don't pawn an orange on me.
What really perplexes me is the fact that it wasn't just kids who went bonkers over a silly orange; the adult world was enamored by the orange as well! Big folk were sending other big folk crates of oranges as Christmas gifts. I'm talking CRATES of oranges. As Christmas gifts. Personally, I would have preferred receiving a fruitcake. And I hate fruitcake!
I came to despise Mom's story of the orange. We siblings felt our Wish List did not warrant a guilt trip. It wasn't like any of us were asking for an ipad, iphone, iwatch, drone, or Mercedes Benz.
I longed for a simple dimestore Davy Crockett coonskin cap. My sister pined for a Poor Pitiful Pearl doll. My brothers had visions of BB guns dancing in their heads.
None of these requests would have broken the bank, even for a middle income family such as ours.
Sadly, the story of the orange continues to mess with my mind every Christmas. While most people are thinking Amazon this holiday, my first thought is still about that darn piece of fruit. I'm afraid it will ever haunt me ...that orange of Christmas past, Christmas present, and, yes, Christmas future. Scares the Dickins out of me.
Jean Mlincek is a freelance writer who resides in St. Petersburg, FL.