By Liam Warin '20
December 24th: a monumental day on the holiday shopping calendar. The last possible time someone could hope to buy presents for loved ones in time for Christmas. Knowing this, I left all of my shopping until this fateful day.
I woke up at 11:30 a.m. and immediately read through the list of presents I needed to buy. For Mom, a book. For Joe, a soccer ball. For Bob, a winter coat. And now we come to Dad. My dad is known throughout the family for being notoriously hard to buy for. Every year, my family has come up with something creative that we were sure would peak his interest, and every year we’ve been disappointed. This year HAD to be different. I decided to draw a star next to his name to remind myself to think of a gift for him.
Realizing that I only had a finite amount of time before the Christmas Eve church service at 6:00, I hastily ran downstairs to grab a bite to eat. I checked the pantry for some cereal, but we had none left. “I’ll just grab something to eat at the mall,” I thought, and started walking towards the car.
“Liam!” Mom exclaimed.
“Hey, Mom, how are you?”
“Joe broke his leg, and will be out of sports for a few months.”
“Merry Christmas!” I responded joyfully, not paying attention to what she had said.
I hopped in the car and started the engine. It was too low on gas to make it all the way out to Tysons Corner. I drove to the local gas station and made it there with little gas to spare. I put the pump into the car and waited. BUZZ! BUZZ! BUZZ! I reached into my pocket and grabbed my phone, only to see that my brother Bob was calling me. Bob had moved to Sacramento, California, yesterday, a difficult transition from the city life of the Big Apple. However, he planned on making the flight to D.C. tomorrow morning after he had moved in.
“What’s up, buddy?” he affectionately said.
“Hey, Bobby! How’s the 916 treating you?”
“It’s much warmer than New York. Even though it is only 50 degrees, I don’t think I’ll ever have to wear a warm jacket ever again! Can’t wait to see you tomorrow!” By now, all of the gas was fully pumped and I got into my car, but realized I couldn’t talk and drive in the District.
“How’s accounting looking there? And yeah, I can’t wait either!” I said, not sure if I was referring to seeing him or ending this call so that I could go shopping.
“You know, same old, same old. No travel, all business. How’s Christmas break?”
“It’s been great. So relieving to have nothing to worry about. Anyway, I’ve gotta go and do some last minute shopping.”
“Alright well, good catching up. We’ll talk some more tomorrow. See ya!”
I finally got in my car and drove to the mall. The next few hours were very productive. First, I went to the Under Armour outlet and bought a nice soccer ball for Joe. I then visited Barnes and Noble and bought Mom the specific book she’d asked for, Summerlong by Dean Bakopoulos. I finished at the North Face after buying Bob a black winter coat.
Home at last. All gifts bought. Time for church. I took a quick shower and changed. All the stress of the holiday season was over! Or so I thought.
I came downstairs to find my brother walking around with a cast on his left leg.
Oh no! I had forgotten that Joe had injured his leg, and that a soccer ball would be of no use to him for a couple more months, taking away most of the excitement of the gift. “Alright,” I thought, “So that’s not good, but at least he will be able to use it sometime.” However, I still needed to find a gift for him that he could use right when he got it.
I attempted to consult my with Mom about this situation, but she was changing in the bathroom. I waited for her to get out, but before I could speak, she told me news that would add on to the ever-growing list of my concerns.
“Hey, Liam! That book you bought me for Christmas last year, Summerlong, is so good! I binge-read some of the book while you were gone. Thank you so much for giving that to me!”
Shocked and confused, I responded with a feeble “you’re welcome” and walked away.
It was church time. Mom told me that Bob got the early flight and that Dad would pick him up and they would meet us at home after church. And then it finally clicked. I had forgotten to buy Dad a present, and Bob’s expensive winter coat would be of no use to him as the only time he ever travels is to D.C.
It was quite fitting for me to have this reckoning right before the service, as it gave me time to contemplate my actions. In my selfishness, I had lost my value of family. After the service, I decided to have my own confession. When we arrived home, I gathered the family into the family room and told them the events of the day, gift by gift. But, most of all, I told them how sorry and ashamed I was of my actions, and how they were never going to happen to them again. I vowed to do whatever I could to reverse my actions.
Although it took lots of hard work and effort, I learned a lesson about the importance of family that money cannot buy.