A Christmas Lesson Worth Remembering

This post is a response to a writing prompt for my eighth grade class: Write an autobiographical narrative. The theme is Christmas. Today I’ll share a bad Christmas story. Tomorrow, it will be a pleasant one. So here we go…

This story takes place when I was a six -year- old, frizzy haired first grader. My mother had left my father and taken my sister and me halfway across the country from Brooklyn, New York to Phoenix, Arizona. We lived with my godmother’s sister and her son. Funds were tight, but life was good. Until Christmas rolled around.

As I mentioned, I was in first grade. Under the teacher’s direction, we made a paper chain countdown to Christmas. Every day we cut off a red or green construction paper ring, marking the approaching holiday. After school, I had help calculating the timeline from the local stores. All of them had the marketing countdown. We have x number of days to shop. The signs of the approaching holiday added to the anticipation. Santa was coming to our house!!!

Except, he didn’t. In hindsight I recall the absence of decorations around our home. The calendar mysteriously disappeared too. While the rest of the world acknowledged the holiday, my mother tried to hide it.

Fast forward to Christmas morning. I woke in anticipation of Santa’s visit to find nothing. Of course, I couldn’t believe the harsh reality in front of my eyes. There had to be a mistake. My creative mind deduced that the presents were hidden. Santa created a game to make the holiday fun.

So, I wandered from room to room, closet to drawer in search of the elusive presents. I even ventured under my one-year-old sister’s crib. Nada, nothing, zilch.

And you know what that meant…I was on the naughty list.

A week or two later, my father came out to Arizona with presents , my parents reconciled, and we were in the car headed back to New York.

First, I don’t judge my parents. As a parent, I get it. I may not agree with how my parents handled the situation, but I understand. They were trying trying to navigate life just like everyone else. As the title states, there is a lesson in this story.

The lesson was this. Christmas is not about presents. It especially is NOT about being rewarded for good behavior.

Now, I love me some presents. Yet, I find Christmas the season where I look for my blessings and express gratitude for them. Today, I love that my life is full of people who focus on enriching the lives of others. I love that my family is healthy, and our adult children like each other. I really love Taco Tuesday! Tomorrow, I’ll have something more to appreciate….like we’re one day away from Taco Tuesday.

If I were to wish one thing different about that sad Christmas, all those years ago, it would be for my mother. I wish she had someone like the women I have in my life. I know they’d tell her to celebrate in a different way…which is a hint of what tomorrow’s story will feature.

My mother is in heaven, so I cannot share the present with her. But, I do have you. So thank you for reading this story.

p.s On top of the above mentioned list, I am thankful for you.