My mom is 81 this year and lives alone in the house Dad and she built. She has me and 3 sons between 50 and 60. Her only wish for Christmas was a red Radio Flyer wagon!
Mom likes to garden, but has trouble lifting and carrying things. The wagon would be great for transporting tools, pots, dirt, weeds and leaves, bringing in the groceries, carrying wood from the garage to the wood stove, and any number of things.
Everyone said, "you already have a red wagon, why do you need another one," to which she would hang her head and say, "it's broken." This was a pathetic display of sympathy seeking, if I ever say one. My brothers berated her for leaving it outside to rust. She said she had had it for 20 years and it came from the dump!
As the older sister and solver of problems, I decided I had to be the one to get the damn red wagon. I had been keeping my eyes open at tag sales since summer, but there didn't seem to be any around. Living in the country, I couldn't even figure where to begin looking for one. Wal-Mart didn't have one, Craigs's List didn't have one. There are no good toy stores nearby. A local garden center uses them, but doesn't sell them. Then M gave me a lead on one at the pharmacy, of all places.
The closer it came to Christmas, the more pathetic she got. "I hear the pharmacy has a wagon---" I told her they didn't, I had looked. (I had bought it!) I told her to get over it. My brothers and our friend M chipped in and I carried the box around in the back of my car so she wouldn't see it in my house.
Christmas eve, I decided not to put it together, so I could wrap it in the box. It fit perfectly in two pillowcases. We gave it to her after all the other gifts were opened. She got all cute and coy and said, "what could this be?" Then her eyes lit up like a toddler's as she saw it was her beloved Radio Flyer wagon. Priceless. David began putting it together on the living room floor. As he refused to read the directions, he made a couple of mistakes and had to take it apart and rebuild it. Mom was getting nervous-she came into the kitchen and had a cup of tea till it was over.
Now the wagon resides in her lower parlor, where the wood stove is. She has a cardboard liner in it to keep it nice. She shows it to everyone who comes in, saying, "see what my kids gave me for Christmas!" I don't think we'll ever have to get her another one!
My friend Trisha thinks she can salvage the old one and plant flowers in it. Mom says it's junk, and Trisha lights up and says, "I know." She is expert at reusing junk, much more adventurous at it than I am. It may live on.