As kids we've all had that one thing we wanted more than any other for Christmas. Each year it was different, but each year we would ask and hope and dream about finding that one special something under the Christmas tree.

The earliest 'dream toy' I can remember asking for was a toy semi-truck. I wanted one like I'd seen in the stores that had both the cab and the trailer and decals and rubber tires... one that looked real. I remember asking specifically for a 'big one' so my mom and dad didn't think I was talking about match box cars. It was a good Christmas morning... I got two! I remember one was a Pepsi truck but I can't recall what the other was anymore.

When I was a little older it was a 10-speed bike at the top of my wish list. I knew I was getting one just by the way my dad was acting on Christmas morning. Dad wasn't a real excitable guy usually but I remember him saying I really should go into the living room and look at what was there. I also remember purposefully hanging back in the kitchen rather than storming in... kind of letting my excitement build. The bike was beautiful. Gray with red stripes and decals and a big bow on it. I felt like a grown up riding that bike and I remember many times going to the garage and just looking at it and sitting on it while the weather was still bad.

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The Christmas gift I remember the most though, and I know my mom remembers, is remembered not so much for how badly I wanted it... but how I lost it. I really wanted a cowboy hat one year. A black one. I got it too, and it was perfect. I put it on right away and didn't take it off... until tragedy struck.

It was my job after the presents were open that year to take the bags of torn up wrapping paper out to the trash. Off I went with my arms full and my new cowboy hat on. Our garbage can was out back by the alley and this was back when everybody burned their trash all the time. Dad had started a fire in the can just a little earlier in fact.

So I traipsed out and put one bag in... and then it happened. The wind. It blew up from behind me, caught the brim of my brand new hat and took it right off my head and down into the trash can and the flames. I haven't felt panic many times in my life but I remember how it felt at that moment. I remember thinking for a split second that I could get it out in time but I couldn't. It was burning and I was crying immediately.

That walk back to the house was one of the worst walks you could imagine. A few feet from the back door mom saw me... with no hat on my head. She didn't use my middle name often but she did that day. She was upset. I was crying and upset. Christmas had just gone down in flames... so to speak.

For some reason I don't remember anything else from that day. It was probably a pretty quiet one as you might expect. It wasn't the kind of memory you want to rehash a lot... so here I am, going through it again all these years later. Mom.... sorry for making you go through that again now that you're reading this too. :)

I imagine many of us have a bittersweet Christmas story or two we could share. Accidents happen and holiday's aren't perfect very often. While that's one of my most memorable Christmases it certainly doesn't over shadow the many 'happier' ones. So here's to a happy Christmas for you and yours that doesn't ever hold it's place in the 'that one bad Christmas' memory file. Here's also to cowboy hats secured tightly on your head, a lack of wind and a good 'ol trash burning ban.