I put myself through college because my parents didn't believe in higher education. My father didn't go to college, so why should I? My mother was a religious fanatic who believed college turned people into communists. So I put myself through school.
I was dead broke, working, studying, going to classes. I was a bag of bones because I hardly ate anything and was running around all the time. One winter it was really cold. I had to wait 45 minutes atop a windy hill in the freezing cold at night for a bus to take me home from school. I asked for a sweater for Christmas, because I only had shirts. A sweater under my jacket would help keep me warm. It was the early 70s. Fleece didn't exist yet, and down jackets hadn't been introduced in American department stores.
Christmas Day I opened my present. It was a bathrobe. A bathrobe? I wrapped a towel around myself after a shower. I didn't need a bathrobe. Plus....it was huge. I held it up in front of me -- it was 6 inches past my toes. I would trip over it.
"Why did you buy me a bathrobe?" I asked. "I really need a sweater. I don't need a bathrobe. And it's the wrong size"
My mother said, "I'll have you know that's a $40 bathrobe from (name of town department store). "
"Good! Take it back. I can get two really warm sweaters for $40." (I could, too. $40 was a lot of money back then)
"I can't. I threw the receipt away."
"But they know their own merchandize. They've been in this town for 30 years. They'll take it back. It's too big for me anyway. I can't wear it, I'll fall down."
"How ungrateful you are! I've never seen anyone like you. I'm not getting you another gift. You should be glad we got you anything at all."
And that's when I realized it must have been a closeout sale. Maybe it was once marked $40, but knowing my mother, it had been marked down more than 50% and was unreturnable. She probably bought it on Christmas Eve, leaving the buying of my gift til the last minute.
I left it at the bottom of the Christmas tree in the box.