One of my earliest memories is of Christmas Day, 1979. I was nearly five years old*. My brother (only sixteen months my junior) had received from
Satan ‘Santa’ a wonderful three storey toy car garage very similar to the one pictured here.
My memories are somewhat clouded by 1) time and 2) the fact that I was so young. What I do remember is being in absolute awe of the garage. From the moment it had been unwrapped, I was spellbound. Cars could be winched from the ground floor to the top floor in a bizarre dumb-waiter-for-motor-vehicles type contraption. The speed at which cars could descend the ramp was nothing short of phenomenal. It was, to my almost-five-year-old self, the greatest toy EVER**. There was a problem. Not with the garage – it was PERFECTION. I had an issue with the fact that IT WAS NOT MINE. A serious issue.
There was normally two of everything in our house. Whatever one brother had, the other had the same. This didn’t happen with the garage. I couldn’t share it. My brother wasn’t willing to share it. (Hell, he wasn’t even four years old. What was I expecting?) It was his and his alone. There was only the one garage. It was like Highlander. But without the insipid Queen soundtrack. And the decapitations.
If I couldn’t have it, then neither could my brother. In front of him and my parents I stood on that brilliant, beautiful garage. On purpose. With wilful intent. On Christmas Day. I wanted to destroy it. I had to destroy it. I brought down my right leg with as much force as I could muster. The ramp shattered into hundreds of pieces. My brother sobbed uncontrollably. My parents were silent, completely shocked. I stood in the middle of the living room, witnessing the outcome of my wanton, wrathful and destructive actions, surrounded by shards of red and yellow plastic.
Every year since then I apologise to my brother on Christmas Day. Most siblings would say “Merry Christmas” to one another,
or “Hey! Pass me another drink, shithead!” rather than “Sorry about the garage”. You’d have thought that after all this time he’d be over it. It’s been thirty one years. Tsk.
I think that because of this, I’ve always tended to be a little subdued at Christmas. Mainly out of fear of the green eyed monster making a reappearance I suppose. (It had to be hauled back the year that Castle Grayskull arrived at home. That wasn’t mine either.) Don’t get me wrong. I don’t hide away from company and avoid seeing my family and friends. I’m not a Scrooge type. Definitely not. Nothing makes me happier than seeing my daughter so excited, brimming with enthusiasm and anticipation. This year she REALLY gets the whole Santa Claus thing and believe me, I cannot wait to see the huge grin on her face on Christmas morning. When she woke today, her first words were “Only four more sleeps to go!”. Her entire vibe is actually quite contagious. She’ll have the stereotypical items that will be coloured 1) mainly pink and 2) mainly pink. There will be Barbie dolls, Disney Princess outfits, ‘play’ make up sets. A pink Nintendo DS. And I will sit with her and play along. Hopefully I’ll be able to avoid being used as a practice model for her make up skills. Not that that has happened before. Oh no. Err, definitely not.
One thing she won’t be getting though? A three storey toy car garage. Because if she did, I would have to bring my size 10s down on it and destroy the fucking thing. After all this time I really should be over it. But I’m not.
*Christmas is just before my birthday. By five bloody days. Thanks for planning that one out Mum and Dad.
**Two years later that honour was transferred to my Kenner Millennium Falcon. Which remains (undefeated) as the greatest toy EVER.