I remember the very first time I went to a Christmas party that hosted a numbered gift exchange. I must have been around the age of 8 and it was at my mom’s work. The party was in a very large conference room and we were all sitting around the perimeter of the room. It was so exciting to see new gifts opened, old ones stolen and make my mental “I wish I had that” list. Then time stopped as one gift was revealed. It was amazing. Christmas carols played in my head. It was the most perfect gift, ever…no exceptions. I was so excited. I was so excited. I was so excited. Panic slowly set in as it came closer to my number. Would I overcome the paralysis of elation that had invaded my body? When it was my turn, as if in a dream, I floated across the room grabbed my prize and ran back to my seat in utter victory. It was mine! My mind quickly played reels of future memories of me, smiling, skipping, singing and interacting with my new possession. I sat so absorbed in my own world of gaeity that I was oblivious to the continuation of the game. A few minutes later the sugar plums dancing in my head were stopped. The “Hallelujah” Chorus silenced. The dream died. Someone stole my gift (being 8 this hadn’t even occurred to me) and stole my heart. I could hear a crowd of voices encouraging me to continue to game. They seemed distant. I was dejected. I don’t even remember what happened next. I must have gotten another gift, but really, in a world this cruel what was the point…I sunk further and further into my thoughts and watched disconnected as the evening progressed. The party concluded and I headed to the car with my mom and brother. The next thing I remember is angels singing from the sky when my dad showed up with MY gift. I don’t know what kind of serious gift negotiation he pulled off, but whatever he did changed the course of my life because I was sitting in the backseat of the car dreaming of a better life with a bag full of water and one goldfish on my lap.