“Mom, can I get a puppy?” “No.” “How about a cat?” “Your father is allergic.” “A little sister?” “You already have a goldfish.” “You can’t cuddle a goldfish…how about a rabbit?”
My mother saw that look in my eye and very wisely said, “Ask your father.”
Thus began the most famous battle of wills in my family history.”Dad, Mom says I can have a rabbit if you let me.”
“You know nothing about rabbits. You wouldn’t know how to care for it.”
He had a point. So I went to the library and took out books about rabbits. I researched the different types of rabbits there were and decided that the Dutch rabbits were the prettiest ones.
“Dad, I know all about rabbits now. Can I get one?”
“Rabbits are dirty. They smell bad.”
“Actually, rabbits are quite clean. Did you know that rabbits can be litter trained like cats? And they can also be trained to walk on a leash like dogs? But they are way cuter than both? Janet in my fifth grade class has rabbits and she walks them all the time.”
He said he would think about it. After three days I asked, “So when are we getting the rabbit?”
“I said I would think about it!”
“Well, don’t you think we should get one?” My father went back to reading his Sunday paper. I hate being ignored. This was going to take some strategic thinking. I enlisted the help of my best friend, Meghan. We made posters that said, “Bunnies are great pets!” and hung them up all over the house, on his dresser, under his pillow.
“Dad’s going to get annoyed,” said my 13 year old brother, Dennis.
“No, he’ll appreciate the effort,” I said.
We kept up the marketing campaign for months. Every day when my dad came home from work he was greeted with, “Can I please get a bunny?” He always said no.
I convinced my brother to make a cassette recording where he, Meghan and I sang new lyrics about rabbits to Michael Jackson songs. I think the only reason he did this was so I wouldn’t annoy him. We chose to play the tape while he was reading his Sunday paper.
Dennis was right; Dad got annoyed. Mom thought it was pretty funny though.
The leaves changed from green to golden yellow, amber and red, and then to brown, falling and crunching beneath my feet as I walked to school. Christmas was so close and I was getting desperate. My father wouldn’t budge.
We had a creative writing assignment at school, to write about the holiday. I wrote, “A Bunny in the Stocking for Lisa.” (I was never very good at being subtle.) I drew a giant red stocking with a rabbit hopping out of the top and got a V++ on the story. My teacher, Mrs. Corsi said, “Read that to your dad; I’m sure he’ll love it.”
So I read it to my dad. He and my mom exchanged looks and my dad held his gut pretending to be wounded. I didn’t get his humor.
It was the day before Christmas Eve. Meghan and I spent all day talking over this important matter. What if I didn’t get the rabbit? Would I be able to handle the disappointment? Meghan said she would share her cats with me, but it wasn’t the same.
Christmas Eve. We got bundled up and went to mass. It was mobbed and everyone was in their beautiful red Christmas dresses and men wore suits. I loved singing Christmas carols and seeing the manager scene in the front of the church. We have a custom in our family to open one gift on Christmas Eve and the rest on Christmas morning.
My father handed me an oddly wrapped flat package. It did not look like a rabbit. But it was a leash for a rabbit…
“You got me a rabbit?!?”
She was in a cage in the garage; a beautiful black and white Dutch bunny only two weeks old. She was warm and soft and I held her tightly to me. I named her Noel.
“Thank you, Dad! Thank you!!”
“After that story, how could I not? God, I felt like such a heel!” he laughed.
But what I realized when I got older was that the gift wasn’t the rabbit (although she was wonderful.) My dad gave me the gift of learning that persistence is usually rewarded.
What was your favorite gift?
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