The Metallic Box

For as long as I can remember I’ve always felt like an orphan on Christmas. Always at events awkwardly standing in a corner as everyone exchanged gift after gift, until someone remembered I was there and slid me some pity five dollar present they bought the day before when they remembered tag along would be there. I’m not complaining, my appreciation of the holiday has grown enormously because of that feeling. I didn’t need the Grinch to rob me of Christmas for me to find a greater understanding of what holidays are for. Holidays aren’t necessarily hard for me, I’ve built my own traditions and my own family to uphold them with.

At the age of eight I was sent to visit my brother for a summer. He had moved from California to Connecticut to live his new life with his new family. My mother sent me for the summer. After the summer was over I never went home. That was fifteen years ago. To say his new wife wasn’t fond of me might sound harsh or unjust. I was thrust into her life, we had never really known each other and here I was, wedding present, ending the honeymoon phase. From then on we spent our holidays primarily with my sister in law’s family. They were nice people, but they were not my family. I never found that feeling of acceptance or inclusion. I learned to push my way to the back of the gatherings during gift giving, it was less awkward for everyone that way.

This isn’t a woe is me story. I don’t care much to think about the past, let alone mope about it. If you’ve made it this far and want to reach out to me and say “poor guy”, don’t waste your time. Without these experiences I wouldn’t be me. I am actually rather fond of the person I have become and I’ve moved beyond fighting with my past. I never won battles with demons so I don’t fight them anymore.

It’s nice to have things. It’s nice to receive things. That’s not what life is about though.

One of my favorite items and one of the only things I have from my childhood is a metallic box given to me by a family member of, ironically, my sister in law. I doubt the person even remembers giving it to me but over the years that box has held everything in it; Pokemon cards, pencils, secrets, drugs, pain, sharpies, tools, thoughts, dreams. For fifteen years that little box has withstood. It has held more of me inside it than I would ever confide in another person.

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A metallic box. Probably worth about five dollars. Most certainly an afterthought present. There’s no thoughtful process to giving a child a metal box with pencils, this wasn’t a thoughtful gift. I love that box. Even now, I’ve dug it out of a drawer and I’m fondly feeling its dents from the times I’ve trampled or squeezed it or thrown it in anger because of its contents. I sit here looking at the wear and tear, the rust, the fact that all these years of abuse, fuck ups, and neglect have yet to destroy the box. It still opens fine, closes great, keeps that piece of me secure inside. It still functions and so do I.

The box, adorned with art quite like myself.

It will always hold that piece of me just in case, but I’m no longer a boy and his metallic box. I have a beautiful wife to lean on. I can take that pain from the box and she will help with the burdens. The dreams have been removed from the box, I share those with friends who support me and keep those dreams alive. My thoughts have moved from that little box to here, a bigger box I share with the world, unashamed and unafraid.

The holidays aren’t measured in material gains. I’m sure many will say “yeah I know that” after reading this. But do you? I love my new headphones my best friend bought me for Christmas. They costed him over a hundred dollars and yes, I’ve opened most my Christmas presents already. Christmas in my house won’t be opening presents. It will be the time where Diana, Killian, Nicolas, our soon to come Ezra, my best friend James and I gather round to embrace having each other. We will eat, drink and catch up. Time won’t be wasted looking at shiny new things when we spend all year working and constantly spending. It will be spent being together, it will be spent in merriment of the gift of having a family. It will be spent not feeling like we are alone in this world.

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36 comments on “The Metallic Box
  1. The true essence of the holidays. We didn’t have much as kids (my brother and I), I remember my mom signing up at sears for a charge card and getting free gifts to fill are Christmas or Easter baskets. I still have the purple bucket the last one came in. It wasn’t the gift but the thought my mom had to do everything. That come those holidays she made it a point to be simplistic(?). That is was about family fun then gifts, and I try to pass that along to my kids as a single mom myself. I hope you guys have a blast this holiday, and honestly in a weird way, I glad you went through what you did, because you wouldn’t be the awesome writer/friend I’m still getting to know!

  2. Thank you for sharing this little piece of you with us, the peeps on the internets. This warmed my heart more than any card could have, and even though it wasn’t something from one person to me, it felt like a gift. Thanks, Papa. 😉

  3. Reblogged this on developing dad and commented:
    I posted a Christmas piece that is silly and irreverant and attempts to be clever. Don’t waste your time on it. But please, read this one.. A great piece that puts it all together as it should be.. Great work, Sir…

  4. I had to read this twice to get past all the tears in my eyes. You described your pain, pleasure, so eloquently and beautifully. You sir Papa are a prince amount men, I’m so happy for your wonderful family and you to celebrate the Christmas holidays how it’s meant to be. Family first and foremost, presents are just the icing on a triple layer cake. Blessings to you all. ❤️

  5. I love you, my friend. Whether or not you open your box to me, I still love you. My box is metaphorical, but I have one, too. One more piece of our lives to show we really are soul family. I love you, I love you, I love you. Merry Christmas to you and Diana and all three of your angel baby boys. xoxo Always.

  6. Thank you for helping me remember what is most important about Christmas, being with the ones you love and just reveling in that and not worrying so much about the gifts. I really needed this reminder today. <3

  7. Feeling all the feels!! Thank you for sharing part of your metallic box with us. I too have felt like the outcast at “family” functions most of my life. I wish I could say I didn’t feel like that now. This year especially, but I believe I will figure out where I belong one of these days. Hopefully sooner than later. ❤❤ As always you provided a great read!!

  8. Ain’t it grand to stop fighting the demons? I have the box of all the things my mom kept for me but honestly, have no clue where it is now but know it’s here somewhere. It’s nice to have something from our past we know led us to where we are today. Loved the story, as usual 🙂 Have a magical Christmas with your friends and family, Briton! <3

  9. Great post! It’s crazy how something so simple can make us feel so much. I have been on both ends of your experience, as the outsider and the one buying a last minute gift for an unexpected guest. (Although it seems you wouldn’t have been unexpected since you were there for quite awhile…) I hope my gifts never come across as uncaring. Thanks so much for sharing on #BlogDiggity today! 🙂

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