Every year, without fail, Richard’s parents gave him pyjamas for his birthday. Nothing else. Just pyjamas.
Every year, without fail, Richard stormed up to his bedroom and slammed the door. The first year, he had wanted a G.I. Joe. The second year, a Nintendo. The third year, a Ninja Turtle action figure. The fourth year, the same Ninja Turtle action figure. The fifth year, he had wanted a Super Nintendo.
And yet, every year, Richard’s parents gave him a single pair of pyjamas.
Eventually he stopped asking for any presents. He stopped hoping for anything. He resigned himself to waking up, walking downstairs, and seeing the thin, flat wrapping paper that would bend toward the floor when he picked it up, drawn by gravity until he tore the paper off to reveal another set of pyjamas. Sometimes they were a solid colour, sometimes plaid. One year, they were flannel with a print of Super Mario on them; this was the year he had requested the Super Nintendo.
Richard learned a valuable lesson, saving his allowance for weeks, months, and in some cases, years, in order to purchase the gifts he didn’t receive.
The year after Richard’s parents died, he bought himself a new set of pyjamas for his birthday; nothing else. Just pyjamas. He wore them every night for one year, and bought a new set for the next birthday. In this way, he remembered them; every night, he would remember buying the pyjamas, and only the pyjamas, for his birthday, and for the first month, he shed a tear. As the immediacy of the pain faded, though, he was glad to still have this daily reminder.