I was at my grandmother's (Nana's) house with my Mom and Don (my step-dad). We were doing the usual Christmas Eve traditions we do every year. All the gifts had been brought over the day before. That evening around 4:30pm, we arrived with most of dinner. Mom and I prepared and warmed up what was left to prepare for dinner. When dinner was ready, we all prepared our dinner plates -- buffet style. Black Forest ham, sweet potatoes with toasted marshmallows on top, fresh green beans, fruit salad, and fresh-baked cresent rolls.
We finished dinner, and had our key-lime pie and coffee. My Mom was unusually anxious to get started with opening the gifts. This had always been how my grandfather (Baba) had been, so we joked that she was channeling my Baba! I figured that she was just really excited to see what was in the big box with her name on it!
So we finally went into the living room, where the tree and gifts were patiently waiting. Mom always "plays Santa" and retrieves the gifts out from under the tree and distributes them among us. Meanwhile, Don sets up his video camera to record the evening's events. Once Mom had handed out all the packages, she excitedly sat down and got out her new camera. This was the new camera that Don had bought her about three weeks earlier -- as her early Christmas gift. And just so you will understand the humor in all of this, let me give you a bit of background...
. . . Earlier in the year, my Mom had her eye on the Olympus Evolt E-510 digital SLR camera. She was wanting to upgrade from her FujiFilm FinePix S7000. We tend to somehow coordinate on these things without even knowing it. We both love our S7000s. But I had also reached a place with my S7000 where I was bumping into a few limitations and I also wanted to upgrade to either the Olympus E-410 or the E-510. There were so many things I wanted to try and experiment with and learn. So much more I wanted to be able to do with what I was learning in digital photography. I have been an Olympus photographer for years!! My very first camera I ever bought with my own money was an Olympus 110mm point-n-shoot camera. And my first 35mm SLR (single-lens-reflex) camera was the Olympus OM-1n (in 1979), and my second camera (in 1985) was the Olympus OM-2s. I still have both of those SLR film cameras and the lenses. I can't seem to bear to part with them. So I had done a great deal of research into the new Olympus digital SLR cameras. . . and unbeknownst to me, so had Mom. I was saving up for my E-510, when I was laid-off from my job at the end of November. I was quite bummed-out! Not only was I now in a bit of a financial bind and hoping I can pay the mortgage, but my dream-camera would now have to wait a lot longer. It was a brick wall. Very frustrating. I would have to "re-group."
About three weeks before Christmas, Don took Mom out to look at cameras. He went ahead and purchased her early Christmas gift. . . the Olympus Evolt E-510. When she called me (all excited) and told me about it, I told her she was a big brat and we chuckled about it. I was really happy for her, but it was a little bittersweet for me. It was a giant representation of my sudden jobless state and it stung, ever-so-slightly. I was still feeling overwhelmed and bummed about the lay-off and the financial belt-tightening I was having to do. No one meant for it to be that way, but it's just one of those quirky life things that happens.
Mom wanted for me to help her learn to use her new camera. And while I really looked forward to the opportunity to get my hands on it and play with it, I was still trying to conquer the unemployment blues. So I wasn't as enthusiastic as I would usually be, but I knew I'd overcome that in short order, I just needed a bit of time. Within a week or so I was gradually becoming better equipped to assemilate my situation, life, and the technical nature of her new camera, although I had not yet had the time to read any of the instructions. Yes, I'm one of those odd-balls that must read at least some of the instructions, then experiment. . . then read more instructions, then experiment more. . . and so on. But with the holiday frenzies, there had not yet been time. But I was looking forward to the opportunity.
So. . . there we were on Christmas Eve, sitting in the living room and Mom was retrieving her new camera so that she might capture the evening's events! I had taken a few photos with her new camera and it was every bit as nifty as I had imagined. With camera in hand, she was insistant that I be the first to open a gift, and she insisted that she choose which one it should be! She was absolutely giddy! I laughed and went along with it.
She chose the larger of my packages and made me wait until all cameras were ready and trained on me. I was really beginning to wonder if a ferret was going to jump out of that box, or what! I began tearing the wrapping paper off of the box. Underneath was a plain brown box that seemed to have been shipped recently. But in our family, boxes can be deceiving. Once I had the wrapping off, I began to work on the tape that sealed the top. I required a blade to cut through the tape, and Don graciously supplied his pocket knife. He slit the tape for me and asked me to wait until he was back behind the camera.
Once he was behind his camera again, I was "allowed" to continue. I bent open the first box flap, then the second flap. I bent open the third and I removed some packing material. Then I bent open fourth flap and revealed what looked like an Olympus box, a camera bag, and some other items. I gasped and blinked back tears. As the realization trickled over me of what I was seeing in that box, I pulled the inner box out of the outter shipping box. Yes, indeed. . . It was an Olympus Evolt E-410 digital SLR camera with the two lens package, an extra battery, the battery charger, a 2gig CF memory card, and the camera bag!!! I squealed with joy and tears began to involuntarily stream down my cheeks. I was so suprised, so happy, so touched. . . that they had found a way to afford such a wonderful gift for me. What an amazingly wonderful, kind and thoughtful thing to do. . . Not in my wildest dreams had I imagined that one of those cameras was in my near future!!
Since the E-410 and the E-510 are so similar, Mom and I are now learning them together. And while I still have days where I feel frustrated about my current employment situation, I'm feeling much brighter with something new to learn. I'm still getting through the instructions and learning all the amazing things this camera will allow me to do. But it's a joy of discovery as I experiment. I'm translating what it means so that Mom can experiment too. So stay tuned to our Flickr sites, as I'm sure she & I will both be posting new photos soon!
Oh yes, the rest of the Christmas Eve evening. . . was fun, and delightful. It is always great fun to watch everyone open their packages and see their expressions. I think that is my favorite part. . . seeing the expressions! Well, that and recieving something wonderful that you never expected. . . and even little things and things you might have guessed. It's is all so appreciated. We all had a great evening. We talked on the phone to my Uncle and Aunt in Maryland and thanked them for the gifts they sent. Although I haven't had the chance to talk in depth with my Dad & step-mom, Julie (they are out of town for a couple of days), I have spoken briefly with them and it seems everyone in our family had a great Christmas.
I hope everyone's holiday has been wonderful and filled with warmth, love, and maybe even a miracle or two! And may your New Year be filled with joy and prosperity!