There was one thing that was always on the top of my Christmas list for several years that I never got: a pony.
Granny put her foot down adamantly about that pony.
“Where you think we’re gonna put a pony? What are you going to do with a pony? Do you have any idea how much it costs to feed and take care of a horse?” she asked.
“Not a horse. Pony,” I reminded her.
“You know a pony is the puppy version of a horse, don’t you?”
“I don’t want a full-grown horse, I want to get it as a pony.”
I never got the pony, of course. And that is fine.
The pony was the ultimate bargaining chip, my bluff.
I could be quite convincing to everyone that I wanted a pony.
I overheard Granny and Pop discussing it, with my grandfather saying he had already put out feelers to find me one.
“She’ll want it inside, Bob. I ain’t gonna have a pony in this house. And you know she will. That crazy child will be a-saying she’s gotta cuddle it and sleep with it.”
My uncle was the one who should have been worried; it would have been him who had to feed it.
I would ask daily about the pony.
The kicker was me writing P-O-N-Y in great big letters across the top of my Christmas list every year.
“Why don’t you put some other things on there you’d like, too?” Mama suggested.
“All I want is a pony. If I can’t have a pony, I don’t want anything.”
“Well, humor Santa and put some other stuff on there in case he can’t carry a pony on his sleigh.”
So, I did.
I put all the things I really wanted.
The Lite-Brite, all the Little House on the Prairie books, Jordache jeans, an Atari, and all the other gifts I wanted, way more than a pony.
I knew there was no way I would get a pony and while I love horses, they terrify me.
Mama was so grateful to see I had something more reasonable on my Christmas list that she got me everything.
Granny, however, caught on after a few years.
“Don’t you even start with this pony mess this year, littl’ un,” she said. “I know your game.”
“What game, Granny? Monopoly?”
She gave me a hard glare through her glasses. “Not Monopoly. Sudie’s pony game. You start around November wanting a pony and carry on and carry on. You know good and well we ain’t getting you a pony, but you also know we’ll feel bad enough about it to get you everything else.”
How did she figure this out? What kind of grandmotherly voodoo powers did she have?
I denied this fact and effectively launched the pony request once again, until the following year, Granny had me declare at the dinner table I had given up on the pony. Or else.
“You try this again and there won’t be nothing on your list under the tree. It will be footy pajamas and underwear.”
The thought of footy pajamas and underwear was enough to make me stop asking for the pony. No kid wants to go back to school after the break and tell their friends they got that for Christmas.
Given my shopping procrastination, I start asking Cole for his list around the beginning of November.
This year, the only thing he mentioned was a Playstation 4 Slim Golden Version.
“That’s all I want, Mama,” he said.
I thought one video console couldn’t be that bad.
“Six hundred dollars!” I exclaimed when I saw the price. For one video game console? Was this console able to communicate with the Space Station?
I thought that was excessive but at the same time, felt bad. It was the only thing he wants.
“Is there anything else you would like?” I asked.
He thoughtfully pondered this for a moment. “Hmmm…no, not really. I think I have everything else I want. That’s it.”
I wasn’t exactly sure how I would pull that off. We try to not focus on the price or the gifts but on the meaning of the season.
Still, I stressed and agonized over this.
I looked around online for cheaper ones.
“I can’t wait to play the Playstation 4,” Cole said every day. “Thank you so much for getting it for me.”
I cringed inside.
“Cole, what if they are sold out?”
“Oh, they are priced where they won’t be. Don’t worry about that, Mama.”
A few days later, Cole handed me a list.
“What’s this?” I asked.
“Just in case they are sold out, Mama. Or you can’t find one or you think it’s too expensive. You know, there’s a lot of reasons why you may not be able to get one for me.”
Sweet, sweet son of a biscuit eater.
My child had beat me at my own game.
His pony was just in the form of a Playstation 4.