Readers Write on “The Holidays”

The Pogo Stick by Beth B.

“I got a pogo stick?”

“I got a pogo stick.”

“I got a pogo stick!!!”

It was Christmas day circa 1971. I had just turned eight earlier that December and had dutifully completed my wish list for Santa earlier in the month.

Prior to Christmas morning, my mom took us to the mall to sit on Santa’s lap so that we could tell him what we wanted for Christmas. I remember I had to stand next to Santa because my younger siblings Linda, age 6, and Eddie, 4, took up all of the room on his lap. An elf snapped a photo of the three of us so mom could mark the holiday.

Nowhere on my list was there a pogo stick. This is why I was puzzled when I got one. I remember seeing, at the bottom of my pile of presents,  a box as long as I was tall and I was curious what this big one was; the final present of the morning.

I recall that moment of confusion, bordering on disappointment, thinking, “I didn’t ask for this.” However,  with four siblings and my parents all oohing and aahing and repeating, “you got a pogo stick!“ it quickly transformed from doubt to fact to a magical moment by the tree. Somehow, if Santa believed I should have a pogo stick, and I was meant to enjoy this, and to enjoy it. I needed to master it!

One of my older sisters, Marie, about 13 at the time, and generally disinterested in me, was suddenly volunteering to steady the pogo stick for me in the kitchen as I tried my first tentative hops. Within minutes, my mom came in and shooed us out, worried about the marks I might get on the linoleum floor.

It was unseasonably warm that year, so I went out to the front walk and diligently hopped and dropped again and again while Linda tried to learn how to rollerskate propped up by our two older sisters, Lee and Marie. Meanwhile, our little brother rolled his new big wheel up and down the sidewalk on our suburban block. I remember thinking, maybe Santa even arranged this weather so we could play with the outdoor toys he made for us.

Schoolwork was easy for me, but I struggled with sports. I wasn’t a very fast runner. When things were hard to do on the playground, like climbing, the monkey bars, I often gave up and walked away. Somehow, I stayed with the pogo stick, though.

I counted the number of jumps from two and four at the beginning to 10 and then 20 and all day till I got to 50 with a goal of 100. I don’t remember if I reached that goal that day or later in the week, but I did get there and beyond. Most thrilling, especially for a middle child, was that no one else in my family or on the block ever matched my record. I could out-pogo them all!

I took great pride in my pogoing and still jump on if I see one lying in someone’s garage or on display at a toy store. We bought one for our kids, but it never held the same thrill for them. It’s only now I realize why this Christmas and that gift stand out so much.

It was sometime after the holiday. It might’ve even been in the summer when we visited my dad‘s Aunt Marie, in Virginia, and while playing in her living room, I overheard her and my mother talking in the kitchen. “How was Christmas?”, Aunt Marie asked, and my mother replied, “Oh, it was sweet. I bought Lynda a pair of rollerskates, Eddie a big wheel and I got Beth a pogo stick.“


And Santa was no more. 

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