The Best Christmas Ever

Four eventful years ago, on Christmas day, I was still recovering from recently giving birth by Cesarean Section.

He was my third trip down the necessary-surgery route, so I knew the drill. I wasn’t carving any turkeys or wrestling other offspring.

In fact, I was lounging like a holiday whale in my parents’ armchair. I sat within reach of my newborn on one hand, and the Christmas tree and presents on the other.

At some point, I got up to adjust something. My short-term memory is barely reliable, so we’ll assume I was changing the music on the CD player behind the chair.

I slipped.

I fell onto the arm of the armchair, with said arm jabbing me cushily at about my uterus.

This was the worst spot to land on. The armchair had struck true. Panicked, I checked down South in the bathroom. Sure enough, I’d started bleeding heavily.

Bless my parents; they immediately offered to keep the other three boys entertained, while my husband drove me and our youngest up to the emergency room where I had delivered just two weeks before.

I told my story to the check-in, to the nurse on staff, and to the on-call doctor.

Fortunately, the bleeding stabilized. Happy ending.

I’m sure I’m not the only one to remember this Christmas, either. I wouldn’t be surprised if the staff went home to their respective families that end-of-shift and said, “The best Christmas story today was this woman, who slipped on a present…

I’ll ‘Twas You

Don’t get me wrong. I think Clement C. Moore threw together an excellent bit of rhyming in his day.

My favorite parts are the classic words one just doesn’t hear anymore; like sash, lustre, and droll.

That, and the specific stanza

As dry leaves that before the wild hurricane fly,
When they meet with an obstacle, mount to the sky,
So up to the house-top the coursers they flew,
With the sleigh full of toys, and St. Nicholas too.

But, I just can’t stand reading it anymore.

Okay, okay -I can tolerate once. Only the original version, however.

I have a medically-certified reaction to knock-offs. The doctor was a questionnaire online and the tests run were a personal evaluation of how much I wanted to throttle the author of each parody -but, still certified.

“‘Twas the night before Thanksgiving / and all through our den / Not a turkey was clucking / Or even a hen.”

My body jerks, like a convulsion. I’m reminded of the times I felt sick but was straining to not vomit, like during pregnancy.

My blood pressure rises. My fingers begin twitching, itching to banish the sorry knock-off to the Downvote Pit of Internetland forever.

I’ll rip their attempt at poetry from their webpage, light it on fire, then burn down the rest of their creative works to keep this brainlessness under wraps.

Or, I’ll realize what’s going on by the second line and simply not read it.

Either-or.

Snappy McSprinkles

Elf

They’re sleepin’, so quiet-like. Little pink cheeks smile in dreamland. Soft breathing’s moving their fluffy blankets.

Perfect.

Now, time to untie this string. I’ve been hangin’ around all day, grinning like a fool.

They’ll be the fools soon.

C’mon, striiiiing! I broke through thicker ropes back at The Pen’!

Good ole North Pole Pen. You don’t hear any annoying Christmas songs about that place. Just crap about naughty and nice and coal and presents.

Candy-coated lies, that’s what.

If I just twist this way -oh. The dog. Glaring. Waiting for me to fall. You can fool those fat humans, but never the slobbering dog.

I even tricked a pet parrot once. He was completely clueless, right up till I pulled the first feather. Would’ve had bird for dinner if Blabbermouth Jingle hadn’t seen.

Made for an impressive scar, anyway.

Nice, doggie. Stop growling; go to bed. I’m just a toy, ya dumb mutt. Just a tied-up toy hanging EXACTLY WHERE FUDGING MOM STRUNG ME UP!

What kind of mom ties up a toy, anyway? What kind of twisted caregiver can’t even use a toy the way she’s supposed to?!

Oh! Footsteps. Stop swinging, string. It’s just the wind, dumb broad -I swear.

“Stay, Duke.”

That’s right, ya drooling waste. Stay there. You’ll be asleep soon, too. She doesn’t tie me up every night.

“Hmmm. Where should we put Snappy tonight, Duke?”

Why ya talkin’ to the dog, lady? It’s not like he can answer you. Just wait till you hide me near the Christmas presents. saw that chemistry set. Ha ha. Dead dog, anyone?

Yeah, don’t whine at me. I’m more valuable than you, dog. I’m Santa’s secret messenger and all that.

“I think we’ll do a treat tonight.”

Oh, good. Make it truffles, woman. I’m tired of eating that candy cane crap. That’s all I got in the joint, too: candy canes. You’d think Santa could hire someone who branched a bit, but no.

Maybe they have some sort of deal with Wal-Mart for all the unsold candy from a decade ago.

Dots and Dubble Bubbles! She is doing candy canes. And, duct tape. Why ya got duct tape? What the -no! No no no no no no no -ouch! Oomph!

“Good night, Snappy. Come, Duke.”

Oh, sure. Of course it’s a good night for your walking pet drool machine. He’s not taped to a box of Fun Dippin’ CANDY CANES! He can probably move to piss somewhere besides his own fleecy bottoms and jingling shoes.

Just keep it up, all of ya. I’ll wait. Every night you tie me is one more slit in a sleeping neck. Who’ll be seeing dancing sugarplums then, huh?

Greetings Cards Have Not Been Sent

Glass Balls

I don’t know about the rest of you, but I’ve felt swamped this season. I’ve got a few balls spinning precariously in the air: the boring blog job, my day job of stay-at-home mothering, writing, present-buying, cookie-making, and THE Christmas Newsletter -all threatening to drop and break into a thousand tiny glass-ornament shards.

Someone should have taken all this into account, particularly knowing I’m a horrible juggler.

It’s the small hands. Might be lack of practice, too.

Point is, it’s December 21st and there is no way I am going to get these Christmas cards to people before Christmas. I know. The post office told me.

After navigating an endless, winding line of hopeful package-senders, I addressed the top of a head behind an overflowing counter. “WILL THIS ARRIVE BY CHRISTMAS?” I yelled.

I think the hair moved. A mumble made it through the wall of bubble-wrapped envelopes and Flat Rate Priority Mail boxes. A finger poked through to point at their posted notice: Priority Mail Not Guaranteed to Arrive if Mailed after December 20, 2017.

“So…. I HAVE A HOPE?”

I think the pile sighed.

And yet, I push onward. I’ve typed up a funny newsletter and sent it inside a crappy Wal-mart card for over a decade now. My audience needs me.

I think.

That, and it’s a decade of tradition. As Tevye would say, “…It’s a tradition. And because of our traditions, every one of us knows who he is, and what God expects him to do.” Though I don’t actually send one to any deity, you get the idea.

Besides juggling and general motivation problems (a standard writing prompt of mine on this very blog), I have made chronicling events difficult for myself. Impossible for myself.

I take my writing seriously when it’s not 2 a.m. before a deadline. I assume a new angle each time is imperative. So, the work gets pushed back and pushed back.

We got a few cards in advance this year, which was nice. Usually I don’t get so many until I’ve sent my famous offering first. All of them are photo cards; the families smiling in matching clothing, standing somewhere ethereal like their front yard.

“We should do a family picture next year,” my husband noted, examining our mail.

I glanced up from the 75 envelopes I was hand-addressing, trying to psych myself up for the next three steps. “I don’t know,” I sighed. “A picture seems like so much work.”

Christmas Morning

Boy Christmas Tree

Ella settled onto her blanket, squirming with excitement. She could hear her heart beating -almost as loudly as Baby Mia’s breathing, from the crib.

Ella knew, when morning came, there might not be presents under the tree.

When she and Jake wrote letters to Santa forever ago, Mommy had said, “Don’t expect too much.”

When they had gone to the stores to see Santa, Daddy had said, “Now, don’t expect too much.”

That night, they had read about Jesus. “Jesus was the greatest gift,” Daddy said. He had looked at them, reminding them what was important.

Then, they had unwrapped the pajamas Mommy made. Ella wondered why Mommy kept crying. “Don’t expect too much, Mommy,” she’d said.

Ella heard a knock. She scampered to her door. She could see Jake’s dark face, peeking.

Mommy opened the front door. There were happy voices. Daddy turned, and scolded, “Ella, Jake! Get back in bed or Santa won’t come!” Jake’s nose went back into his room. Ella went back to her blankets.

Who is at the door? She wondered, as she drifted off to sleep.

Soon, Jake was shaking her. “Ewha! Chwismas!” He danced around the room, shouting. Mommy came in, looking tired. She scooped up Baby Mia.

Ella jumped up and followed Jake to the family room. She stopped, toes curling in carpet. There were boxes and boxes in bright, shimmering colors. Slowly, wondering, Ella walked forward.

She stopped, then looked happily at Mommy. “I guess I should have expected too much!”

 

Susanna Hill’s 7th Annual Holiday Contest