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28 may 2024

Gift. From heart to heart

And I told him everything! - How much do you need? - uncle asked briskly and, for the first time in my life, patted me on the head. - I have enough already... - Well then, go to the «Temp» grocery store on Policzevskaya and buy some pastries for your parents and yourself. It calms you down! - and uncle handed me a tenner.
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Gift. From heart to heart

- «You're supposed to give gifts for New Year»! I said, looking carefully at my parents. «Preferably expensive and pleasant ones»!

- «Is that so»? Mom was surprised. «I had no idea...». She looked at Dad, seeking support. But Dad didn't support her.

- «The boy is right»! he said. «See, he's already growing up...».

I triumphantly glanced at Mom and tried to stand up straight to appear taller.

And Dad continued, addressing Mom:

- «...so, you and I can expect wonderful New Year's gifts!»

- «Really»? Mom exclaimed happily.

- «Of course! Since the son said so...». Dad was serious, like never before.

I wanted to reply that gifts should only be given to me, but I bit my tongue. I couldn't disgrace myself in front of my family, who believed in me.
The situation... Ten days until New Year's, and I only have a ruble and some change! Not enough...

Okay. I'll figure something out with the money. Later. Right now, it's important to find out what gifts will make Mom and Dad the happiest.

- «What can I give Mom»? I asked myself.

And honestly answered:

- «I don't know»!

The situation was the same with Dad...

I'm a bad son! It felt bitter... And suddenly I remembered that I had never, in my ten years of life, given my parents any gifts.

No, we glued together something unnecessary and ugly in kindergarten, drew some silly cards at school, but it was nothing more than the spoils of the «arts and crafts» class.

I thought for a long time, and then went to Mom.

- «Mom»! I asked her, «What does Dad want most?»

- «For you to always be healthy»! Mom said. Then she thought for a moment and added, «And happy»!

- «That's not interesting...». I waved it off. «Tell me instead, what would Dad like to receive from Santa Claus?»

Mom pondered.

- «You know», she said, «Dad doesn't have a good pen. It's embarrassing to look at what he writes with...»

Thanking Mom, I went to Dad.

- «Dad, what would Mom ask Santa Claus for as a gift?»

Dad also thought for a moment, then mentioned that Mom was running out of her favorite perfume, «Red Moscow».

The next day, after school, I went shopping. The outcome of this venture simply devastated me.

Yes, I found a beautiful Chinese pen with a golden nib at the «Voentorg» store on Lenin Street! Yes, they also had «Red Moscow» perfume in the perfume department there. But! The pen cost forty-five, and the perfume – fifty-five rubles! Where to get such incredible money? All day I walked, repeating the question over and over:

- What to do?

And at night, our cat Vasily came to me in a dream, straightening his whiskers and holding valerian, and suggested:

- Take money from me!

With that, I woke up, knowing that a solution had been found. I think I've blushed before while telling that I had a piggy bank in the form of a cat. And I partially collected money in it through donations and partly through direct extortion to buy a «Smena» camera.

The camera cost insane money – a hundred and forty rubles! But it was more than just a goal. The camera was a cherished dream! And now I had to part with that dream.

Tears welled up in my eyes as I spread a newspaper on the floor and took the piggy bank cat from the shelf. I had it for a very, very long time, over a year, and I got used to it...

It seemed to me that the cat was looking at me reproachfully. Turning away, I struck the bottom with a hammer. Weakly, I suppose. The bottom didn't break. I hit harder, then even harder. And...

Instead of making a hole in the bottom, I smashed the cat into five pieces! And I cried.

Then I still collected rubles, threes, one red ten, and some change among the shards. Counting my riches showed that there were already ninety-two rubles with change.

For the next two days, I just begged to be sent on shopping errands. Of course! After all, all the change, according to an unwritten agreement, remained with me.

Honestly, buying sugar, I cheated, asking the saleswoman Aunt Katya to give me a twenty-ruble bill as change...

And then my Uncle Grisha came to visit us. He stayed for a while, drank tea with my parents, and as he was leaving, he pulled out five rubles and said:

- Come on, Shurka, bring your cat here!

- I don't have it... - I mumbled.

- How come? - Mom was surprised. - I saw your cat just the other day!

- I smashed it! - and I showed Mom the fragments of the piggy bank that I had kept for some reason.

- Where's the money? - Mom asked.

- Spent it...

- On what?

- Won't tell you!

Sensing something wrong, Uncle handed me a five-ruble bill and beckoned me to follow him.

- Let's go, I'll see you off!

- Will he get it? - he asked in the yard.

I shrugged. It was very, very insulting!

- Did you spend the money wisely at least? - he asked.

- Haven't spent it yet...

And I told him everything!

- «How much is missing»? Uncle asked briskly and, for the first time in my life, patted me on the head.

- «I already have enough...»

- «Then here's what, why don't you go to the 'Temp' grocery store on Politseskaya and buy yourself and your parents some pastries. It's calming»! - and Uncle handed me a tenner.

- «Let's go together»! I perked up. «It's on the way to the corner for us anyway»!

But Uncle Grisha referred to some errands and stayed behind. When I returned home with the pastries, Mom and Dad looked embarrassed. They loudly rejoiced at the pastries, but for some reason, they also gave me half of theirs...

There were no more conversations about the broken piggy bank. The shards of the piggy bank also disappeared. I bought the pen with the golden nib and the perfume the next day. And hid them.

On December 31, before they left to celebrate the New Year, I gave my parents the pen and the perfume before going to bed. They were pleased, thanking me. It was so nice!

In the morning, waking up earlier than everyone else, I glanced under the Christmas tree. After all, I was also hoping for a gift. Under the tree, on some pedestal, stood my piggy bank cat, skillfully glued by someone.

Of course, I couldn't collect money in it anymore, but... I was glad. And then disappointed. They glued the cat and that's it! Did I really not deserve anything else?

I sat, holding back tears, pondering how to thank for the gift and not show that I was upset...

And then I looked at the fairly large cube serving as the cat's pedestal. It couldn't be! But it was. The cat's pedestal was a box, and I knew, knew, knew that I would find something in it!!!

By Alexander Birshtein

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