Christmas in the Seley house. If you’ve read previous blogs, you might expect something less than “White Christmas;” not so “It’s a Wonderful Life.” Maybe something more like “Bad Santa.”
But, ironically, not so. Maybe “A Christmas Story” would be the best comparison; you know, quirky and kind of funny-weird, but not bad. The things that happened as a matter of abnormalcy (I made that word up and am sticking with it!) and with scary frequency in our lives, seemed to evaporate at Christmas. Mom would have made most days better if she could have, but Dad, who seemed to have made it his life’s work to screw up the lives of his offspring, became Father Christmas at Christmastime. How can I find fault with that?
I did take little-kid-exception to the year he sat us all at his feet (he liked this forum) and announced that for Christmas that year we would all only get one gift; my sisters would get a car to share, my brother, a motorcycle, and me, a pony! I suppose the reason I’m the only one who remembers this is because I was the only one who believed him! Of course, I believed him! He was Dad!
My siblings were teenagers by then and probably blew it off as another pile of you-know-what; of course, they knew things about him, pretty awful stuff, that I did not. Thus, in my silly naivete, I was crushed when Christmas came without the car, motorcycle, or pony. Of course, the facts that we lived in a trailer, had one car, and barely enough money to get by, were just not on my radar. I was pretty bummed. Yes, I know, this is a first-world problem. No one starved, everyone lived. And I pouted.
In case I haven’t gathered enough sympathy points yet, that was the same trailer, if not the same Christmas, when he let me know, rather rudely, on Christmas Day, that there was no Santa. I might have recovered, maybe, if about ten minutes after the stunning, smirky news (“What? You don’t still believe in Santa, do you?” You get one guess as to my shocked, tearful answer), I was moping around and suddenly realized if there was no Santa, then what about the Easter Bunny, Tooth Fairy, and…well, you get the picture. That Christmas sucked! But again, not “Lifetime Movie” worthy, even by a stretch. Stuff happens, and sometimes it happens on Christmas.
The truth is (and my siblings agree) that our Christmases were good. No idea where the money came from, but they always came through with something to make us feel special and loved. The food and goodies, all homemade, were amazing, and I think we all try to mimic the same menus in our homes today. It may have been humble by other folks’ standards, but that hardly mattered when Mom and Dad managed to make four kids love Christmas almost every year.
Ironically, the one year that they almost didn’t pull it off might be our best Christmas story ever. At that time, we all lived in a one-bedroom motel efficiency (yes, you did your math right, six people, one-bedroom motel unit). We had a little tree and little else, including no working car. This was in Meridian, Idaho; I was in the fifth grade and my siblings were in junior high and high school. As we sat around the tiny television on Christmas Eve, we heard sleigh bells (stick with me here…we really did!) right outside our room. We opened the door to find a couple from a local church ringing the bells. They had gifts, goodies…and an old, but working car. No, I’m not sh-tting you. I remember we had to keep the windows of that car open because exhaust came through the vents…but it worked. True story. Christmas saved by the kindness of others. I can only imagine my parents’ relief! Magical stuff…not only Lifetime Network, but Hallmark worthy!
These things do a lot to explain that I am something of a Christmastime freak. My husband swears he had to sign a clause (no pun intended) stating that he was, indeed, marrying an elf. I’m OK with that. I don’t think I realized the true reason for my excitement, hopes, and over-the-top decorating, until I was coming up with this blog. In a roller coaster childhood with a lot of darkness and blind curves, there was one time of year that I could almost always count on for the good guys to win. And depending on what you believe, Christmas is a reminder that we all can win.
Merry Christmas, if you celebrate it. Happy-your-holiday, if you don’t. Regardless of what this time of year means to you, I wish you peace, and if only for a moment, a little magic.