The New Year’s Gift

We went nearly every year, on the 31st December. Mother-of-witch liked getting together with her ‘girlfriends’ whenever she visited her home town, and usually there was a New Year’s Eve party. I always came too.

I was young, but I wasn’t stupid. I knew three of these friends would have a gift for me. I was very mercenary, so I liked going. The particular New Year’s Eve I’m thinking of must have been when I was four or maybe five. I can remember approximately how tall I was (not very), which is how I know.

These friends – let’s call them Izzy, Kerry and Annie – always did things together. Always. Izzy was the boss, and so it was she who addressed me, holding the coveted parcel. ‘This present is from Annie’ she said. I recall quickly processing this weird piece of information in my mind. If it was from Annie, why on earth was Izzy giving it to me? Did she mean that it was from all three of them – as expected – but that she was saying it wrong? But if it was from Annie (and she said it was), it was Annie who should be thanked. What a conundrum. (I didn’t know that word back then, but I felt it.)

However awkward it was having a gift from one person handed over by another, thanking the right woman was paramount. Quick as a flash I turned round 180 degrees and curtseyed to Annie. (It’s what polite little girls did.)

And then the assembled ladies did what adults have always done. They laughed at the sheer humour of this small person who was getting it wrong. And right. Perhaps they laughed at Izzy, the childless spinster who didn’t know what was necessary and what wasn’t.

So I had to turn round again and curtsey to Izzy and Kerry as well, because the gift was, as always, from all three. I reckon Izzy was thinking I wouldn’t know Annie was in on it if her name wasn’t mentioned.

They must have thought I was stupid because I was only four. Or maybe five. But I wasn’t.

Whenever I consider the reasoning capacity of young children these days, I remember the young Bookwitch. If she could process these conflicting thoughts in a split second, while also noticing how absurd Izzy was being, I believe most children could, and that their brains are much further advanced than we give them credit for.

6 responses to “The New Year’s Gift

  1. Underestimating children is always a bad idea. And, as you point out, we’ve all been children at some point, so there is really no excuse for it.

    Happy New Year to you and all the Bookwitch coven!

  2. Teasing by adults in a malicious, or at best thoughtless, way was what I most hated at that age — condescension is very hard to take when you’re growing and sensitive. But I’m sure yoir aunts weren’t like that.

  3. No, those friends were very kind. But I still wonder why Izzy started off her statement as she did. Even at my young age, I kept thinking she’d soon say the rest, but she didn’t. Hence the present appeared to be from Annie only…
    And whenever I find myself smiling at small children out, because they are small and cute, I remember that I always wondered why I was so amusing. (Clearly I was also cute, but I didn’t know.)

  4. I like picturing you curtseying even now!

  5. I’ll curtsey to you when we next meet up. Even though you are younger and possibly shorter than I am.

  6. Pingback: The curtsey | Bookwitch

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