We all know Charles Dickens trotted out three ghosts in his A Christmas Carol to illustrate to Ebenezer Scrooge just how he should change his miserable ways. In one little tale, Dickens introduced the terms “Merry Christmas”, “Bah humbug”, and “Scrooge” into popular vernacular as well as changed the ideals of Christmas. Suddenly, Christmas became the family and festive-meal-focused event which many folks, Christian and not, celebrate today. But we all know that the tale wouldn’t have had such staying power without the use of ghosts. Because everybody likes a ghost story.
With that in mind, let me trot out some of my own Christmas ghosts. Perhaps a little Christmas ghost exorcism will get me in the spirit of things.
The Ghost of Christmas Tree Past: The invention of the Christmas tree, and necessary tree stand, is evidence that humanity really hasn’t evolved as far as one might hope. My first ever Christmas tree post-college was schlepped many blocks by myself and Mister Soandso to the apartment I shared with my sister. Even a small tree gets heavy after about 20 blocks. Home, flushed with our tree-getting mastery, we then proceeded to put it up and decorate it. In our exuberance, we had neglected to think about what one actually does with a Christmas tree. After all, how many kids are involved with the heinous part of Christmas tree magic? So, it was only after we lugged the damn thing up the stairs did we look at each other and ask, “now what?” Oh, we were prepared with lights and sparkly bits of glass and tinsel. But just how to support our lovely bit of nature?
Crisis mode ensued, solved with an ice cream bucket. Do you sense any potential problems with this solution? If not, try it some time.
Even filling, wedging, and weighting down the bucket with various odds and ends just wasn’t enough to keep that tree upright. Here I was, college graduate and with soon-to-be-graduate boyfriend, completely stumped by the concept of gravity. Let me tell you, it gets mighty hard to hold onto your Christmas cheer while simultaneously holding up a Douglas fir. But, we put our collective vocabularies together, swore up one side of that tree and down the other, and then one of us had a brainstorm. Two thumb tacks and a length of dental floss later and we had a functional Christmas tree. Now if holding up your Christmas tree with tooth floss doesn’t just scream Ho Ho Ho! I don’t know what does.
Ghost of Christmas Tree Present: As stated in the Turd Ball, my kids have a tree down in the basement. As I was vacuuming down there the other day, I had a little incident with it. I must have bumped the vacuum against the leg of the table. Which has a the 4 foot tree standing on it. Which the children had decorated on basically only the front side. So, keeping that little thing called gravity in mind, it went like this: 4 feet of ornamented fake tree topples forward and I catch it with my face. Talk about a challenge – turn the vacuum off, call for help, and not step on any ornaments.
The Ghost of Christmas Pageant Past: One of the things I do each year is coordinate the children’s Christmas program. Last year was the first year I had enough children attending that I could put on an actual Christmas pageant. The kind with a Joseph and a Mary and a baby Jesus. So, I had “auditions” where I begged kids to take roles, scheduled some rehearsals, the usual kinds of things you may very well imagine.
In this particular production, I had a few roles that needed strong readers and/or good memorizers. So I cajoled my dear Biggest into being the Angel Gabriel. It was to be a fantastic event. My son, dressed in a white robe, gigantic feathered wings strapped to his rather small body, standing on a stool and sounding like a voice from on high. In my pageant directorial debut, I envisioned it to be a rather stunning theatrical moment. Alas, it was not meant to be.
Starting at about 10:30 pm, Biggest began vomiting. In case you are not a parent of a particularly difficult sick child, let me illustrate just what kind of hell I entered. Biggest is a violent puker. And prodigious. As in every 8-10 minutes. Yes, you read that correctly. 8-10 minutes. So you really can’t just put a bucket by his bed and tell him to give you a shout should he need you. Instead, he and I slump exhausted on his pillows, with a plastic bucket at the ready. All night long. And should I fall asleep in between sessions, he likes to wake me up to tell me just how miserable he is.
To say I wasn’t feeling quite like my usual bubbly self come pageant time would be putting it a bit mildly. But I got there, other 2 children in tow, and hustled them down to the costuming area. Where bedlam ensued. I finally just thrust then 6 year old Middlest and 3 year old Littlest into the arms of a helper and escaped, hunting for a suitable Angel Gabriel stand-in.
Finally, it was time. The little ones were dressed in their animal costumes, the middle ones were dressed as shepherds and townsfolk, et cetera. The pageant started. And was awesome. Including the moment when one shepherd got confused and sat in the manger. Which was okay really, because Mary had forgotten Baby Jesus.
Ghost of Christmas Pageant Present: Actually, this year’s pageant went off with nary a hitch. Although this year Mister Soandso missed it again since he was home with the vomiting Littlest. I believe I may well be cursed. Oh, and watch out Middlest, looks like it’s your turn to be puking next year.
The Ghost of Nutcracker Past: This isn’t truly my story, but I loved it so much I’m co-opting it. A grandmother I know from Middlest’s dance school shared with me yesterday that she had seen the school’s Nutcracker production just the other night. A highlight for this year’s production was the advent of flu season. Apparently 11 cast members succumbed to the evil virus. But, we all know the show must go on, so the poor dears did. Go on stage that is. Which meant that Clara accidentally danced through the puddle of vomit a little mouse (or was it toy soldier, she wasn’t really sure) had emitted on stage left.
Ghosts of Present and Future: Now if my life is truly Dickonsesque, we know there will be calamity coming up in a few days and in the future as well. Perhaps Amazon will fail us and the much-anticipated and asked for gift will not arrive in time as promised and paid for via “expedited shipping”. Or there will be no AA batteries in the house, only empty packages that once held the lovely little providers of flashing lights and shrieking toys. Or any number of other bits and pieces of stories we will tell in the years to come.
After all, it is the stories of the holidays that we really treasure. Year after year, recalling the moments that may have once brought tears to our eyes but now bring laughter to our lips.
It is the ability to find humor in a situation that truly blesses us.
“‘God bless us every one!’ said Tiny Tim, the last of all.” ~ Charles Dickens