a christmas story
This is my favorite Christmas story… a true one, and one that’s been retold in my family for years. I grew up without much materially but surrounded by a ton of love. This tells the story of my family in the best way.
I was 3 years old. My brother was 7. My mom, brother and I lived in a small apartment in Miami, Florida. My mom was going through a difficult (to say the least) divorce, and was alone with her two small kids. It was Christmas.
It’s tradition in my family for the whole, big family to come together on Christmas Eve and open gifts to each other that night. When the clock strikes midnight – or as close as we can get before falling asleep – one of the kids plays “Santa” and hands out the presents, one by one. We take turns opening the gifts, watching each other and commenting, telling stories and sharing the experience of each gift. After opening presents, the smaller family units head to their homes, and open gifts with each other and from Santa on Christmas morning.
That year – 1988, after my mom’s family had gone, and our small apartment was back to the sounds of just the three of us, my brother tiptoed out of bed and found my mom sitting in quiet at the kitchen table, unable to sleep. I was long and fast asleep. My brother, Chris, rubbed the sleep out of his eyes and worriedly looked at my mom.
“Mom,” he said, always precocious and years older than his age. “There are no gifts from Santa under the tree.”
My mom looked up and over at the tree. How had she forgotten? She was in the process of planning a move to Georgia with the three of us, unsure of the future. We’d be leaving all of her family in Florida. She had other things on her mind that year, and it had slipped.
My brother continued. “It’s okay, Mom. I don’t need anything, but Cyndi should have a gift from Santa. She should believe in Santa.”*
She hugged my brother and said Santa brought gifts for the both of us. In the morning, there were a few presents wrapped under the tree, and my brother passed them out, one by one, and told me how Santa came down the chimney while I slept. I believed in Santa Claus, or at least in the fun of it all, until I was 11.
I think it’s the greatest gift I’ve ever been given.
And that’s the year my brother saved Christmas.
Happy holidays! I’m looking forward to celebrating Christmas this year with Zander. We took the first step this weekend when we put up his tree. I shouldn’t have been surprised to find his decorations wish everyone a very merry Redskins Christmas, after all!
*ps -I’d put money on that being the day my mom became the easy crier she is now! 😉