The One That Set the Bar


I was four, maybe five, and it was May 30. Not only was it memorial day back in the seventies, but it was my birthday. The memories of the entire day have hazed, most likely the truest, clearest parts have been woven into my memories with the aid of our family photo album. But, I do remember waking up very early and very excited. I must have bugged my sister, because she went into my parents room and asked if there was something she could give me — presumably to shut me up for another hour or so. She came back with an oddly shaped package in thin tissue paper. I tore it apart, breathless with anticipation. It was a sandbox play set, complete with sifter, rake, shovel, and a bucket with eyes on it. It didn’t matter that I couldn’t go out to play in my sandbox for hours, or that there was little to do with it other than comb the shag carpeting with the rake; I was happy — for a while.

The day wore on and my impatience grew. We had to wait for my grandmother to walk the mere distance of two houses to join the celebration, and I guess for the neighbor kid who was my sister’s friend to come over (he’s in the photos, but I don’t really remember him being there). I can’t recall what we had to eat, or what kind of cake I had. I don’t even remember (parents and Mom Mom forgive my poor memory) any of the other gifts. I only remember one. The One. It was the most perfect, amazing present a kid could ever have —

The Weeble Tree House.

I tore off the paper and it was as if angels had suddenly burst into song and rolled back the thick gray clouds to let the golden rays of the sun beam down upon me. Along with the two, properly choking-sized (hey, it was the seventies, man), hippie Weebles, the tree house came with a yellow basket swing hooked to a wench, a picnic table, a hidden door in the tree’s trunk, and — silly seeming to my preschooler brain — an orange window set smack in the sunshine yellow roof. It wasn’t particularly large, or elaborate. There were no batteries, and very few moving parts. But, man, it was cool.

I played with that thing all day, and for many days after. It is the gift that immediately comes to mind even now when I think of my birthday. It is the one that, despite my young age and underdeveloped memory-retention skills at the time, has managed to stick in my mind as the present of all presents. And it is the day that all other birthdays must hold their own against in comparison. Every year I move farther away from that day, from being that elated kid with the incredible new toy. But, there will always be something inside me that hopes to have just one more birthday like that, one more Weeble Tree House day.

About Avery

I am a roller derbying, dark fantasy author. This blog chronicles my adventures in life, writing and skating. View all posts by Avery

9 responses to “The One That Set the Bar

  • Christina

    I love how you write out your memories, also that picture is really cute. For the life of me, I can’t recall a favorite gift, I think at the time I was given them, they were my favorite, but now that I’m older, nothing seems to really stand out. I can’t even remember what I got five years ago. yikes…

  • Karen

    Now I’ve got that weebles wobble but they don’t fall down thing in my head!

  • avery

    SQT — I’ve met a lot of people with the May 30 b-day. I guess we know what our parents were doing during those dog days of summer.Charles — I talked to a childhood friend lately, and it’s amazing what he remembers compared to what I do. It’s like our minds have picked out only a few key points and let the rest turn to fuzz.Kate — Had the birthday yesterday. Sadly, there were no Weebles, but it was still a pretty good day. Thanks.

  • Kate S

    That’s right – Fisher Price people! I loved them too.By the way, I wasn’t sure if this post meant you were having a birthday now or just remembering one. In case it was the former, Happy Birthday, and may it be Weeble filled.Heck, that stands for whenever your birthday may be.🙂

  • Charles Gramlich

    Great story. Great memory. So funny how our memory works. Certain elements become absolutely salient, absolutely clear to us, while all else recedes into a mysty gray background. Now you’ve got me thinking of my childhood birthdays.

  • SQT

    Hey! My brother’s birthday is May 30th. I know we’re not related though, he never got the cool Weeble Tree House. Happy Birthday.

  • avery

    Spy — I’m still bummed that mine went to goodwill. I’d be playing with it right now if I had it. Kate — They were the Fisher Price people. With a sister and a brother ahead of me passing theirs down, I had a boatload of those. I think my Mom saved a couple of the older wooden ones.

  • Kate S

    Oh, I LOVED the Weeble Tree house! I didn’t have one, but some neighbors did. I was even considered “too old” by that time to play with it (10-12, I think I was) but I loved it.That, and the schoolhouse, bus and castle that featured those other little choke-sized characters similar to Weebles. Can’t remember their names right now – but they looked like round pegs with heads on them.Thanks for the memories.🙂

  • spyscribbler

    Aww, man, I always wanted a Weeble Tree house! I forgot about them! My favorite birthday gift was a piano. I can’t really remember any other gifts I got!

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