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For me, that gift was a bicycle. I had come of age (8), and a bicycle was a symbol of maturity. It would give me status among my neighborhood peers and it would make me mobile. No training wheels, this would be the real deal two wheeler — a big boy’s bike. However, I knew that we were not rich and, plain and simple, the bicycle would be outside of the family budget. I believed that it would just remain a nice dream.
A couple of days before Christmas, I was in the kitchen with my Mom. She had asked me if I completed a task that my aunt and uncle asked me to do. Since my aunt and uncle lived with us in the front, first floor of our two-story home, I figured that I would just ask them. Before my mother could stop me, I walked into their apartment. There in the living room was a shiny, new Blackhawk (German-made) bicycle shipped from Marshall Field’s in Chicago. My jaw dropped. What was that bike doing in my aunt and uncle’s living room? At first, it didn’t make sense, but it suddenly became clear that this was my Christmas present. My mom, following me on my heels, shook her head as my aunt and uncle shrugged their shoulders in a gesture that said, “What could we do, he just burst in?” They had all been so careful to keep the surprise under wraps until Christmas Day, and now the surprise was spoiled. But really, it wasn’t.