Fish Food

Your confidence in your gift grows as you make your purchase. Fish food. It’s perfect. You won’t even let your dad see as you drag him out to the car. You wrap it all yourself and wait eagerly for the big day.

Christmas comes cold and dark, the one day of the year you willingly get out of bed before ten. You run screaming into your parents’ bedroom and haul the blankets back off of them as they groan and shiver. Ah, Christmas! What fun!

Your parents settle onto the couch and you excitedly deposit your present onto your mother’s knees. Now she’d understand. Now she’d realize all she meant to you. Giver of life and nourishment! Guardian of well being! Mother, blessed mother!

She borrows your dad’s pocket knife- maybe you went a little overboard with the tape- and peels back the red paper. Her smile stiffens into a confused grimace. “Oh. Honey. That’s…” She trails off, holding the bottle of fish food up for your father to see.

He snorts on a laugh and then nods seriously. “Nice. Very nice.”

You look back and forth between them. This wasn’t at all right. You know when you’re being coddled. You frown. It was perfect. What had gone wrong?

Well, at least you have another year to figure it out. Better luck next time.


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