When I was a little girl, my teenage brother very excitedly brought home something called “the rocket.”
It was a device one was supposed to install on their car that would magically increase gas mileage and general efficiency of the car.
Right away my father was skeptical. And sure enough, it turned out to be a dud. He teased my brother unendingly for being taken in.
The rocket disappeared for awhile. We probably all assumed my brother had thrown it away. However, the apple does not fall far from the tree. My brother learned practical jokes from my father.
A couple of Christmases later, my father opened his lavished wrapped present with great anticipation. There in its original box was the rocket. My brother felt vindicated in having had the last laugh.
However, the following Christmas, when my brother opened his brightly wrapped present, there, in its original box, was the rocket.
My father and brother kept this up for years, until after my brother was married and becoming a father. The rocket disappeared. Everyone moved on to the next stages of life, only occasionally enjoying a collective family laugh about the rocket exchange.
When I asked who ended up with the rocket, they both claimed not to remember where the exchange stopped. Neither believed they had it.
Many years passed. Holiday traditions changed. I often was with my in laws in Kentucky for Christmas and we saw my parents in South Carolina for New Years.
But one year we all got together at my brother’s house in Georgia for Christmas. By then my parents were in their 90s and my brother was a grandfather.
Everyone enjoyed the gift exchange. Everyone seemed to have gotten their share of gifts. My brother looked a little puzzled as he noticed a small gift tucked under the tree. He fetched it out and read the tag. It was for me.
We all wondered where it had come from and more importantly, from whom. I eagerly dived in to find out.
And there … in its original box … was the rocket! My father laughed and looked at my brother, and said, “You had it!” My brother insisted he did not have it. And everyone seemed genuinely mystified.
Finally my mother spoke up and said, “Do none of you still believe in Santa?”
It was one of those moments when we all, young and old alike, thought we heard sleigh bells. I was a bit preoccupied because I was already thinking of who I was going to give it to the next year.
So where did it come from? My mother finally confessed. She had been doing some end of life cleaning when she happened upon the rocket.
She said, “All those years you boys were having fun. I thought it was time for us girls to enjoy it now.” She winked, as if she was sharing a secret.
It turned out she was. She did not need that rocket to get to her next Christmas. The Lord gave her a much more powerful boost to Heaven.
Where is the rocket today? I’ll never tell. That’s part of the mystique. It just appears. And there is laughter and joy … and it creates wonderful Christmas memories!