You just can't put a bow on some things

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By Angye Morrison

Another new year is upon us, and I can’t believe that 2008 is already done. It was a year of change for me, since I changed jobs and moved to Gadsden County. But I’m glad I made the move. I’m beginning to feel like it’s home.

I hope that everyone had a great Christmas. I know I did. I went down to my baby brother’s house in Tampa, as did my parents. We all enjoyed watching my 3-year-old niece Amanda open her gifts. This was the first year she was truly excited about Christmas and that she really got the whole Santa thing. She was so excited about Santa coming, in fact, that she couldn’t wait to go to bed Christmas eve.

This year, Santa left a little something Amanda really wanted under the tree – a toy laundry center. It’s a washing machine with an attached ironing board and three baskets to put folded “laundry” in. It even came with workable dials on the machine and an iron.

When she began opening it, she said, “I have wanted one of these my whole life!” She then proceeded to yell, “Yes! Yes! Yes!” repeatedly while she continued to peel away the wrapping paper.

Amanda also got (from me, her favorite aunt...she calls me Gigi) a ballerina Barbie, wearing a sparkly pink ballerina costume. There was even a sparkly pink ballerina costume for Amanda to wear herself. I also got her pink nail polish and some pink Crocs, among other things.

In fact, Amanda got a lot of pink stuff. Her favorite color was, until recently, blue. But she’s decided that pink is the new blue, which she tells people repeatedly. So there was an avalanche of all things pink for her under this year’s Christmas tree.

I also got some pretty cool stuff. I had picked out a ring that I liked in October, and my mom got it for me for Christmas, so I knew it was coming. But then I opened a second little box, and found an emerald ring that I knew nothing about. For once my mom actually stumped me. I didn’t see that one coming at all. Not that I’m complaining, mind you.

But even that wasn’t the best gift I got this Christmas.

I have another brother that I haven’t seen in quite some time. He wasn’t with us for the holiday again this time. In fact, it’s been years since he’s been with the family for Christmas. So needless to say, the holidays are always a little bittersweet for us.

I won’t go into the details behind the situation; it’s enough to say he’s very stubborn and prideful. And we don’t usually hear from him at all. Not even during Christmas. But this year was different.

You see, his oldest son, who came to live with him a few years ago, has moved out on his own, and his youngest son lives with his mother. So this year, my brother was alone for Christmas.

He must have been really feeling blue, because he called my mom’s cell phone, and left a message. Contained within that message was the greatest gift I got this Christmas. At the end of the message he said, “Tell Angye and Benny (my youngest bro) that I love them.”

Simple little words. Simple little words that meant so much. But it went beyond just that he said them. The words were the icing on the cake. I haven’t heard his voice in a long time. He could have said anything and it would have been just as sweet.

I pride myself on being a tough chick who can handle anything. But I have to admit, when I heard his voice, that pride melted away and I just began to weep.

I wasn’t the only one whose pride had melted at least a little...his must have, too. In my head, I was imagining the Winter Warlock in that Rankin-Bass Christmas special from the 1970s, “Santa Claus is Comin’ to Town.”

We’ve probably all seen it: Santa, as a young man, faces off with a warlock who is mean and icy cold, hence the name. But a simple gift – a choo-choo train – melts the heart of the warlock, and he becomes a kind and good man.

Now, my brother isn’t mean and icy cold. In fact, he’s a kind and good man already. It’s just that all that goodness and kindness are just below the surface right now, covered up with a whole lotta stubborn.

So after a Christmas like that, what’s my New Year’s resolution? Although I don’t normally make resolutions, mainly because I rarely keep them, this year’s going to be different.

Anybody know where I can buy a little wooden choo-choo train?