by Alex Boyd
It was mid-December when I accompanied my mom to the greeting card store. Christmas music was playing, and the entire store smelled like scented pine cones. I followed my mom as she zigzagged through the store, and gazed longingly each time we walked past the aisle with all the stuffed animals. As a six-year-old, stuffed animals were my obsession. I had about 200 at home, but I was always looking to add more to my collection. We walked past the stuffed animal section one more time, and to my surprise, my mom stopped walking. My heart started beating with excitement. Was she really going to buy me one today? I looked at all the pairs of teddy bear eyes looking back at me, and smiled knowing that I might be taking one of them home. “I still haven’t bought a Christmas present for Emilia,” my mom said, still looking at the stuffed animals. All the excitement in my body stopped, and was replaced with burning jealousy. Emilia was my cousin; she was a year younger than me. Because of this, I was always jealous when my parents bought her something because it was always something that I wanted too. “I need you to pick out the cutest stuffed animal for her,” my mom said smiling at me. She had no idea how much I didn’t want to do that. I wasn’t going to let this be another time when Emilia got a better present than me. I went and picked up the worst stuffed animal I could find. It was a very small, plain looking teddy bear.
“This one,” I said, handing it to my mom.
“That’s too small, this is for Christmas. I want you to pick out the best one. Which one is your favorite?”
I looked through the entire aisle for a stuffed animal that was ugly enough to give to Emilia but special enough to pass as a Christmas present. Finally, I saw a fluffy stuffed gorilla. He had a grumpy looking face, but he was big, and his fur was nice. I handed him to my mom.
“Oh my gosh, he’s so soft!” My mom exclaimed as she put him in her basket. We left the store, and I was happy knowing that Emilia was getting an ugly stuffed animal for Christmas.
Weeks went by and I had completely forgotten about the gorilla. I woke up Christmas morning and ran to my sister’s room to wake her up. Together we sprinted to the tree and started tearing open any present in sight. I was finally down to my last gift, it was a big box that had “from mom” written on the tag. Since it was my last present, I took my time opening it, peeling off the paper as neatly as I could. Then, I opened the box and looked inside. Looking back at me was the grumpy face of the gorilla from the greeting card store. I looked up at my mom in confusion. Why did she give me Emilia’s present? I thought she must have made a mistake. My mom started giggling.
“I had no idea what to get you this year, so instead, I tricked you into picking out your own present!”
I felt horrible. If I hadn’t been so jealous, I would have picked that I actually liked. But now, I was stuck with the gorilla. I didn’t want my mom to know how upset I was, so I pulled him out of the box to look at him. He wasn’t that ugly; he was soft, and his grumpy face was kind of cute. I named him Chango, and he eventually became my favorite stuffed animal.
Fourteen years later, I have gotten rid of all my stuffed animals, but Chango remains. Every Christmas, my mom laughs when she remembers this story. She told me that when we were in the greeting card store, she knew exactly what I was doing. At first, she said she tried to stop me, emphasizing that I should get my favorite one. But she soon caught on to how jealous I was, and she purposely let me get the ugly gorilla so I could learn my lesson. I did. Every time I look at Chango, I am reminded that jealousy is futile, and it hurts you more than the person you envy. And every year after that, my mom never took me with her when she bought presents for Emilia.