Saturday, November 30, 2013
My Best Memory of Christmas
Quite a while back, I entered a contest about "Your best Christmas Memory". I put in mine, and even though I didn't win, it still holds as my best memory of Christmas ever because of what it taught me.
I was 15. You know the age... young, indestructible, full of life, only wants to hang with friends NOT family..... yeah, I was that kid. I remember a lot of calls for my Dad that fall about how his mother, my Granny as we called her, wasn't doing very well. I had overheard Mom and Dad talking about making a trip up north soon to visit with her because the family didn't think she'd make it till our yearly visit on Easter weekend. I wasn't really keeping up with it. I had a super cool boyfriend at the time and I was chit chatting with my best friend about what parties we were going to go to for the holiday. Then a week later, my parents dropped the news that we were going up north for Christmas.
Ugh! I was thinking... "Aw man! No boyfriend kisses under the mistletoe, no parties with my best friend, no tree, no home cooked meals, no opening gifts Christmas morning, nothing!!" I was pissed. (Did I mention I was a complete ass as a teenager??) So, as soon as school got out the Friday before Christmas break, we hit the road to drive the 500 miles up to my father's ancestral home. It was also cold that year, and there we were, total Florida teen plus Mom and Dad, stuck in a mini van on I-75 headed up to even colder northern regions.
So there I was, cold, alone, and sulking in the back seat of my parent's mini van. It wasn't the greatest trip. In an effort for my Mom to make me feel better about the trip, she asked me to make a mix tape (hey it was over 20 years ago!) of Christmas music for us to play on the van tape player. Yeah... I put in "Home For The Holidays" about 5 extra times on that joker. (see.... ass.) I was refusing to talk to my Mom and Dad. Every time they asked me what was wrong, I threw on my headphones to my walkman,(damn I'm telling my age!), and zoned out, ignoring them. In my own teenage way I was exacting revenge during a holiday that most people get closer on. As I sat there sulking in my own little world, hating that I wasn't home....
There it was!
My Dad had gotten into the left passing lane on I-75 somewhere up in Georgia. There was some shitty looking Chevy Chevette up ahead he was trying to go around. As we got closer, I noticed there was something weird about the Chevette, something attached to it and facing backwards. As we got closer, I made out an 8 point buck, mounted in a sort of show box, perched on the rear of the car. It has a red lightbulb nose, ornaments and tinsel on the antlers, and a Santa hat! The box was decorated with shiny garland and twinkly lights and when the driver tapped the brakes, the nose lit up!! I giggled to my self and wondered who would drive something like that? My Dad began to pass the car and that's when I saw. It was the man himself.... Santa Claus, or at least an unreasonable facsimile! Driving the shittiest Chevette I have ever seen with a jolly Rudolph head attached to the back, was a fat man in a Santa suit waving out his open car window wishing us a merry Christmas and safe travels! After we passed I had to ask myself if it was even real. My Mom and Dad were laughing and I joined in. Suddenly we were laughing and talking and everything was OK. That's when I knew.
I knew that no matter where we were, it would always be Christmas. I knew that there would always be people who carry on the spirit of the holiday's no matter where you were, Home, a Highway, a Hotel, anywhere. I knew that I was only hurting myself by resenting my parents for this trip. I learned that the people you love don't last forever, so you better love them right now. My Granny passed away the next November. It turned out that that WAS her last Christmas and it meant the world to her that all of her sons came to be with her for that holiday. I learned so much that holiday, and I did it without ribbons. I did it with out tags. I did it with out packages, boxes, or bags!
So there it is.... my best Christmas memory. I was with my family.
I've held on to that memory for the longest time.