My Treasure

I was given this wool scarf for Christmas in 1961. I can't remember by whom, but most likely it was Jane McCoid, the most beautiful, fashionable person we knew then.

We had been in the US about four months. A week before Christmas, she visited us at home late in the afternoon, and stayed for a short time. She gave me our first ever Christmas present just before she left. (Back then, Christmas was a strictly religious occasion in Japan, and though about one-third on my mother's side is Catholic, we never exchanged gifts.) We knew the rules; we were supposed to put it under the Christmas tree until Christmas Eve, then open it. And we even had a Christmas tree; I don't remember if it was a tiny plastic one, or a big real one, but I do remember scouting the vicinity carefully in the days leading up to Christmas.

After she left, mom and I felt giddy staring at the beautifully wrapped, lonely present under the tree. Mom asked me, three or four times, if I wanted to open it. We hesitated a little, then tore the present open. I do remember being disappointed because it wasn't a toy, and told Mom she can have it, but not disappointed enough to take away the giddiness. And Mom wore it, lovingly, for a decade or two. Then, sometime in 80's or the 90's, she found it in her drawer somewhere, and asked me if I wanted it back. It's been mine ever since.

It is made of very fine wool but it's been washed and dry-cleaned several times, to say the least, and it has a coarse, scratchy feel, but the brightness and the Chrismtasy feeling is still there.

When we left Minnesota, I was five, and Jane McCoid gave me a single pearl on a silver chain; I still have that, too. And that's amazing, because over the years I've moved a few times, and ever time I moved I shed material possessions so I don't have many "things" from my childhood.

I still feel giddy remembering receiving our first Christmas present, and how naughty it felt to conspire with Mom and open it early.

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