This post is by Joe Stephens
If you read my personal blog, you probably get it that I’m a bit of a fan of Christmas. That’s because I have so many warm memories of the season. But nothing’s perfect, right? We all have our not-so-warm holiday memories, I’m sure. Here are a few of my clammy Christmas recollections.
One of my earliest recollections of Christmas was when we were on our way home from my Uncle Ellis’ house on Christmas Eve. Everything was going great until my brother Don yelled that he saw Santa! I looked excitedly from my seat in the middle (I was the youngest, so I got the middle back seat with the hump), and sure enough, there was Santa walking in the front door of a house. At first, I was ecstatic that I’d actually seen Santa in the flesh. But then my brother asked a question I hadn’t thought of.
“What if Santa gets to our house before we get home?”
My dad, thinking he was being funny, said, “He won’t be able to get in, so I guess you guys won’t get your presents.”
As you can imagine, that didn’t sit too well. I was in a dead panic the whole rest of the trip, badgering Dad to speed up because Santa was in our area and he has those magic reindeer, so he could easily beat us to our house. No amount of reassuring that he was joking was enough. Mom told me that, even if Santa missed us the first time, he would come back after we got home, but I was dubious of that. I had an even worse time sleeping that night than usual, worried nearly sick that Santa wouldn’t leave us anything. It was a long night.
I’m happy to report that Santa did indeed leave us presents, so it was a happy ending. The next not-so-hot memory, also involving Santa, had a somewhat less jolly conclusion. We were at church for the Christmas dinner. I was young enough that I didn’t remember the previous year, but was assured that Ol’ Saint Nick was scheduled to appear and bring gifts to all the good children who came and sat on his lap. I could barely eat I was so excited to see him. Finally, after what felt like about a year or so, I heard, faint but definite, jingle bells in the distance. My eyes grew wide as they got louder and louder. All eyes turned to the door as it opened. The jolly old elf came ho-ho-ho-ing through the door, holding a big pack of gifts in one hand and waving with the other.
Except something wasn’t quite right. Santa’s waving hand was waving a little more than it should have been. Two of the five fingers of his white glove flopped and flapped loosely with every wave. Santa only had three fingers. Don’t ask me why, but this completely wigged me out. I climbed on my mom’s lap, wailing and pointing at the three-fingered abomination. I refused to leave Mom’s lap the rest of the evening. My brother had to retrieve my gift for me. It was a flashlight.
As I got a little older and started interacting with some of the folks at the church more, I met an older man who was missing the same two fingers. His nonconformity didn’t bother me like it did on Santa, but it did seem like an amazing coincidence that he was missing the exact same digits. I was a lot older than I like to admit before I added up that equation.
I could go on for a while. I have an entire post’s worth of tree disasters, but I’ll save those for next year. So what have been your less-than-stellar holiday memories?
Joe Stephens is a teacher at Parkersburg High School. He is also the author of Harsh Prey, Kisses and Lies, and the recently released In the Shadow, all of which are available in paperback and Kindle formats. The paperback may be purchased from Createspace, Amazon, and most online booksellers. In the real world, you may purchase from J & M Used Book Store in Parkersburg and from the author’s trunk.
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