A Child’s Christmas

Christmas eve. My dad’s hairy flailing right arm can reach most of the seats in the station wagon. That’s why I sit directly behind him. I stare at his hairy neck and realize that he has transformed himself into a werewolf somewhere between grandma and grandpa’s front porch and the freeway on-ramp. Afraid that he will snarl and smile his fangs at me, I never look up at the rear view mirror. I still itch from my shepherd costume, a musty old potato sack with sleeves. My sisters hear sleigh bells. I close my eyes and listen. I pray to hear them too. They spot Rudolph’s nose. Where? I open my eyes. Where? Where? He’s gone, they say. Serves you right for falling asleep on Christmas Eve.
Before bed, my mom reads us the Christmas story from the Bible. Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.
I can’t sleep. I can’t sleep. I feel myself shaking I am so excited. I can’t sleep. I’ve got to–the sooner you sleep, the sooner–I just can’t sleep. It’s no use. I can’t sleep. I wake up. It is early, and the house is still asleep. Ninja-quiet, I make my way downstairs. I examine what Santa has wrought. The half-eaten cookie and the empty glass of milk. And my haul. And my little brother’s haul. I switch a few presents around. I go back to bed and fake sleep until it is time.
There is always a lull between the presents and lunch on Christmas day. My parents never take naps. Except on Christmas. I run across the street to Alex’s house. He shows me his toys. I am confused. Alex is a hellion, and he never brushes his teeth. I do not doubt the existence of Santa. I doubt his sense of justice. Or maybe elves messed everything up. The invisible gremlin kind. The ones that spy on you and get paid on commission for every name they add to the naughty list.
First thing when we get to the farm on Christmas afternoon, grandpa takes me on his knee. He drawls out my name. “Sounds like a pretty good name to me,” he says. He says my name again. He rhymes it. He sings it. “Sounds like a pretty good name to me,” he says again. He takes me to see his tree, which he fashioned out of bailing wire and branches pruned from some old spruces around the farm. Grandma gives me and the other grandsons blue feet pajamas. We put them on and run around the house for hours. We endure the talent show featuring our older cousins. We listen in awe as grandpa tells the story of when he was dating grandma at Christmas during World War II. He was a medic in a mental hospital in Corpus Christi. He saw a lot of what we would now call post-traumatic stress disorder. He got a three day pass for Christmas. He spent almost all of it on a train from Texas to Utah and back. Just to spend a couple of hours with grandma. To kiss her. To make promises for later.
The day after Christmas. Having eaten the entire contents of my stocking (minus the obligatory toe orange) plus several sugar cookies, I am not feeling well. My big sister has her friends over to play with her prize Christmas present: a board game called “Go For It!” I am watching a rerun of Different Strokes and trying to act cool. One of my sister’s friends is kind of cute. It comes on all of a sudden. I projectile vomit my Christmas candy all over “Go For It!” My sister is crying now. Her cute friend does not seem impressed.

2 thoughts on “A Child’s Christmas”

  1. Ah yes, the Christmas lull. That’s why it was always good when you got a book for Christmas. You can tuck yourself away in a corner and avoid getting dragged into board games and kitchen help.

  2. A Calvin and Hobbes ending! And an interesting counterpoint to the other Christmas stories told around the blogs.

    So many little kids’ days end like this, and so many parents’. Fun and sooo not fun.

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