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Tuesday, August 17, 2010

A christmas story

Christmas Ain’t Christmas Til Somebody Cries

Aaah, the holidays. That special time of the year when normal families are thinking of peace on earth, good will to men and the like. My family, on the other hand, has been spending the last few months trying to figure out the best way to make somebody cry on Christmas morning.

For some reason we are just not happy until somebody cries. Apparently gifts mean more when they make people cry. There were the years of the restored Mustangs, oak roll top desks, and the year I HAD to have the Chicago 17 record. I realize I just dated myself. There was the year my mother got a wooden duck decoy wearing a ribbon, and she sat there for almost an hour smiling and looking for all the world like she had really wanted a wooden duck decoy for Christmas, not realizing that under the ribbon around its neck was a strand of pearls.

My grandmother now receives “Grampie” jewelry for Christmas. The year after my grandfather passed away Gran bought herself a ring. When my mother told her she really couldn’t afford to do that, my Gran said, “Well, your father would have bought it for me.” Good one, Gran. Now she gets a piece of jewelry every year from “Grampie”. One year we did get her pretty good by putting a diamond ring in her stocking.

The most recent outstanding Christmas memory has come to be known as The Three Ring Circus. A little history on my stepdad – he is one of those people that likes to give you a really big box with a really small present and fill it up with rocks and wood and newspapers and the like. He’s a sick man. So, this particular Christmas the washer and dryer had croaked just a couple of weeks before the holiday and he told my mother that the new machines were her Christmas present. Christmas morning he even put a big bow on them.

This was the year that the diamond 3 stone Past, Present and Future band was all the rage, and my mother had said that was all she wanted. So of course, she expected that she would be getting it, regardless of the whole washer/dryer thing. The whole family was there for Christmas, including my Dad and Stepmom. This was also the first year my husband was with my family for Christmas.

Christmas morning dawns, and my Stepmom shows up with a beautiful 3 stone band from my Dad. We all ooh and aah at it. Present opening proceeds. My mother receives a variety of gifts, including some very nice Black Hills earrings, but no really large “main” gift. Present opening concludes, and she still has no ring. But she still thinks she’s getting one, because by now she has convinced herself that the ring my Stepmom has on is really for her. We have breakfast and everyone can tell my mom is agitated and is still waiting for her ring. My stepfather continues to assure her that the washer and dryer are her gift. Honestly, at this point, my sister and I are taking bets on my mother tackling my stepmom at any minute and snatching the ring off her hand.

By midday, my mom is on the verge of tears, my stepmom is watching her back, we kids are walking on eggshells, my husband thinks my family is crazy, and my father finally tells my step dad that “for the love of God, if you got her one, just give the woman her ring!”. He tells my mom she should do some laundry. Finally, someone, and I don’t remember who, goes out and takes the ribbons off the washer and dryer and there in the dryer is my mothers Christmas ring. Now mom is happy and denies being upset in the first place. Good times.

We do not speak of that Christmas.

Last year, my grandmother put in my Mom’s stocking some letters she had found. They were letters my mom had written to Santa when she was a child. She mostly asked Santa how he was, told him about herself, and then asked for a new nightgown and a toy for her cat.

We all cried. If only she’d needed cat toys that one year…..

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