The Christmas Watch

December 2015
February Fortescue (Slytherin)

I was ten years old, and Mom had given me and my sister a small sum of money we could spend on Christmas presents. Fourteen-year-old Tasha was very creative and I suspected her money would be going towards small canvases and paint, creating homey little houses "with love". Me? I was hoping the local shopping center had adorable photos of kittens or puppies on their gift certificates.

On shopping day, after I'd selected certificates and began following Mom around the shopping center while Tasha visited the art supplies, I stopped next to Mom while she admired some very costly watches. These seldom interested me; after all, my cell phone tells me the time but one very inexpensive watch caught my attention. The face of the watch showed Jesus holding a baby lamb, and instead of numbers, it had drawings of the face of each of the 12 disciples. I knew my grandmother, who was a Christian, would absolutely love this watch. For the first time ever, I bought someone a Christmas present that was not a gift certificate! I could not wait until Christmas Eve, when the entire family went to her house to open presents. Just to see the look of shock on her face and everyone else's! Plus, I knew it was the perfect gift for her. I was counting down the days.

Christmas Eve arrived, and there we were, gathered around the Christmas tree at Grandmother's: me, my sister, Mom, Dad, Mom's three sisters, their husbands, eight nieces and nephews, Grandfather, and Grandmother. We all loved Grandmother, and she was at the center. We'd each hand her our gift, and she'd open it in front of us all. Today she wasn't feeling well and I knew she had a really bad headache and was feeling very weak, and when it came my turn, and I nervously handed her my gift, she smiled and said, "Sandra, I know it's a gift certificate. Tom, will you lay this on top of the fridge for me?" Tom was my grandfather. I protested, "But Grandmother, it isn't this time! You'll love this! I promise!" Aunt Helen grabbed me by the wrist and told me to go sit down. To say that I was very hurt is an understatement. I felt as if my world was falling apart. I sat in a corner and cried, while everyone ignored me. When the time came for my mother to present her gift, I discovered she and her sisters had gotten together and bought Grandmother a very expensive watch with each of their names engraved on it. My gift - the one I was so proud of - suddenly looked very small and worthless. Exactly how I felt.

Just before New Year's Eve, I received a phone call from Grandmother. "Sandra, I am so sorry! I forgot about your gift and just remembered it on top of the refrigerator. It is so wonderful! Where did you find it? I've never seen anything like it. I LOVE it! I promise I'll wear it every day!" She sounded genuinely pleased. As the months went by, Mom and my aunts kept mentioning that she always wore the watch I got her for Christmas and she never once wore the one they had given her. I told them she had put their watch in a locked jewelry box for safe keeping, while mine was expendable. They insisted that wasn't how Grandmother felt. She truly loved the watch I had selected.

That March, Grandmother was diagnosed with cancer. She was told it was very rapidly spreading, and she had about six to nine months to live, but if she opted for chemotherapy, she might be granted an additional year, perhaps more. She chose to forgo the chemotherapy. She died in November, never again having another Christmas. She wore that watch until she no longer could. Mom and my aunts wanted to bury her with it, but the Funeral Director said it would just corrode, so they returned the watch to me. I still have it to this day.