December 1: An unexpected surprise that taught me the real meaning of Christmas

Matthew Symington wanted a Nintendo 64 - but got an art set

Matthew Symington wanted a Nintendo 64 - but got an art set - Credit: Archant

My favourite Christmas memory stems from an act of childish thoughtlessness, writes Matthew Symington.

I must have been around eight or nine when I first began to ask my parents for a computer games console. At that time the most popular one on the market was a Nintendo 64, and I diligently pestered my mother for one in the months leading up to Christmas; redoubling my efforts in December.

When Christmas morning came my siblings and I scurried around the Christmas tree in the hall with our parents sluggishly following behind, they having only finished wrapping and arranging the gifts hours before. We always take it in turns to open presents; unwrapping the ones from Santa first and then those from our parents. I had left to the very end a large box-shaped gift which, I was sure, was the Nintendo 64.

So sure was I of this that before I got around to unwrapping the gift I prodded my Dad impatiently and whispered, “I know what this is, it’s a Nintendo 64.” I still feel a pang of guilt wondering how he felt knowing this wasn’t what it was.

When I unwrapped the last present I at least had the good sense to conceal my disappointment at discovering that it was, in fact, an arts set. However somehow the sudden deflation banished my selfishness, and I soon realised what a magnificent gift this arts set actually was; with all manner of paints, pencils, brushes, and pastels. It kindled a love of art which I still enjoy, and has (I hope) developed my brain rather than rotting it in the way that computer games do.

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I hope that people remember Christmas is not a time for pressuring parents into buying expensive items, but a time for family and good will. Merry Christmas

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