I wrote this a few weeks ago for a Christmas Presence, a Wild Goose event. It was really cool. It was a basically a night of stories, poetry, musicians, all in the hopes of ushering in the Christmas Spirit. I don't know about everyone else but it did the trick for me. Afterwards I was feeling nice and rosy and comfy cozy. God Bless us Everyone!
As a child
Christmas morning in my family
was like the second coming of Jesus.
Which is interesting theologically.
An Armageddon of gifts
would trumpet themselves
into our tiny worlds and
a day long bow and tinsel extravaganza
would rapture our toy addled brains
until we’d slowly emerge from under a mountain of
tape and tissue paper.
This is not to paint a rosy
picture of family Christmas
akin to greeting card fodder
with pristine Polaroids
of matching sweater vested,
nuclear household bliss.
It was more like nuclear war,
with squabbles evaporating
and seasonal tension escalating
turning the hap-hapiest season of all
into an a walk through a more
atomic winter wonderland.
But Christmas morning was special.
It was a canvas to paint on.
It was blissful hours of build up
where as kids we could act like children
as we pulled and prodded candy from stocking toes
and ripped decorative bows
and watched the way laughter grows
when people are generous with their hearts.
Childhood raced past though.
Now I was 20, half child, mostly man,
and Christmas morning was upon us in full force.
We were breaking for a leisurely 2pm breakfast
stretching our couch weary legs.
A glacier of wrapping paper was
slowly inching it’s way across the living room
digging out great lakes and tundra of carpet
in it’s rustling wake.
When mid stretch
like a snowball tossed carelessly my dad
says “We’re out of pop. I think I’ll run out and grab some.”
In the middle of Christmas?
Now understand that my dad’s pop
needs were not to be taken lightly.
The sweet nectar of Diet Pepsi drew him
like a mutant honey bee
to drain countless cups--
big gulps saved from previous fountain excursions
fizzing to the brim with ice and aspartame.
In the middle of present extravaganza 2001?
the biggest post Y2K gift exchange the world,
or at least the mid west,
or at least our living room,
had ever known?
He was not to be persuaded.
He trundled out into the icy world
intent on seeking out with vain hope
the one convenience store
open on December 25th.
The door slammed and out he went
to roam the blustery
ice slick roads in search of festive two liters,
holiday holy grails,
leaving us feeling Pepsi Challenged.
Twenty minutes later he arrived home.
The door slammed as he
festooned the vestibule with a cloud of profanity
colorful enough for the holiday season.
“Go look at the CAR!”
He implored through venom and vitriol.
We trekked to the drive way
hot feet crammed awkwardly
into laced shoes
walking like bow legged penguins
to survey the vehicle in question.
The sight we were met with
shocked and awed our addled minds
here was a sight that did not fit
the pleasant picture of
Christmas morning niceties.
There sat the Camry with a
massive crushed indentation,
a perfect frontal perforation,
that split station wagon
down the center like a Christmas ham.
We sat in the frigid wind gaping.
Apparently in his quest
to find the effervescent elixir
my father had skidded
and hit the thinnest obstacle available.
A cable stretched tight for telephone pole support
had cleaved the family car in twain
like industrial dental tape
our two ton, maroon molar
at 30 miles per hour.
By the time the police showed up
we knew this would be
a Christmas morning to remember.
The officer was cordial
grabbing details like a harried magpie
“What were you headed out for exactly sir?’ he probed.
“Oh you know…” said my dad casually.
The officer nodded knowingly.
Post police we tried to nestle back into our routine
but like naked children
into too tight wool sweaters
the morning didn’t fit right anymore.
Never fear though.
Thoughtful parents quick to recover
brought out the big guns.
The hidden presents,
the high octane,
come find me in a different room
sort of presents,
were skipped to
like the best song on your favorite holiday mix.
The plebeian socks and underwear
left under the tree for later scavenging,
we made our way to basements
closets and crawlspaces
to retrieve the gargantuan gifts.
Forever known etched in my memory as
“The Christmas dad went for Pop”
Semicolon subtitle: “Christmas with a Cop”
The Yule legend was further cemented
when a mere day later
dad innocently said
“We’re out of Pepsi. I think I’ll just go out real quick”
Minutes later we found ourselves digging
the cleaved nose of the previously damaged Camry from a
Everest sized drift.
Since then , come Christmas,
we always make sure to have
pop a plenty on hand.