Indian Life Newspaper -

The Year I Forgot Christmas


Last updated 11/14/2016 at 5:40pm

It seems impossible anyone could forget Christmas when every store is filled with decorations and TV programs are showing Christmas stories and Christmas music is playing on the radio. Houses are decorated, churches are decorated and the mall is filled with people buying gifts. But last year I forgot Christmas. It was snowing. There wasn’t a car driving down the street and no one was on the sidewalk. It was as if I was the only person in the city.

I turned the corner of a building and a woman was walking toward me holding her coat collar up around her neck trying to protect herself from the cold wind. “Merry Christmas,” she smiled. I stopped in my tracks. “Is today Christmas?” I asked.

“Yes, it’s Christmas morning,” she said. “Merry Christmas.”

She walked away but I stood there on the snowy corner. I’d forgotten it was Christmas.

I’d mailed cards and gifts to my children a couple of weeks ago, and I knew Christmas was coming, but one day slipped into another and then when the actual day arrived, I’d nearly missed it altogether. How was that possible? Then I realized that because I live alone and rarely see anyone, every day had become the same as the day before.

My closest friends all live in other states and they are also alone. They are also widowed and their children are also grown and gone and they were spending the day alone too. I emailed Denise in Texas and asked her how she was doing and she said she’d spent the day waiting for one of her kids to call and they hadn’t called yet and she’d been crying. I emailed Mary in Missouri and got the same response.

We were all sitting around waiting for our kids to call, not wanting to call them because they’d be busy opening gifts with their friends and spouses and we didn’t want to interrupt them. It was too painful for any of us to remember the way Christmas used to be when we were wives and mothers.

Denise said this was the worst Christmas ever. Her brother had given her a nose hair trimmer and it had obviously been used because it had hair in it. Her sister had given her a yoga shirt that had sweat

stains under the arms and her daughter had sent her a diet book and a calorie counter.

Mary and I started laughing. I said a woman had given me a musical cigarette lighter even though I’d never smoked in my life. A woman at church gave me a large box with a big bow on it and I was expecting something great but it was five used wire clothes hangers that she’d sprayed gold.

Mary said she’d been dating a man and he’d given her a plastic basket filled with soaps and shampoo that were free samples from a hotel in Las Vegas and she had never been to Las Vegas but he had been there and not with her. She said she wouldn’t be seeing him again.

We started sharing stories of our worst Christmas gifts as children, clothes that didn’t fit, toys that didn’t work, things that had obviously been re-gifted.

When I was a kid, most years I didn’t get any gifts for Christmas, but one year a neighbor gave me a pair of boxing gloves that were so big and heavy I couldn’t even lift them.

When Denise was seven she received a doll that only had one eye and it had scared her so badly she’d buried it under the porch.

Mary said she’d wanted a “Nurse’s Kit” when she was eight and her grandmother had given her some cotton swabs and a band aid.

The more we talked the more bad gifts we remembered. Of course, they weren’t funny at all when we were young. They were disappointing and hurtful. We’d received factory reject pajamas with only one leg, jigsaw puzzles with half the pieces missing, a box of chocolates with teeth marks in half of the chocolates and a three dollar check that bounced. Our other memorable gifts included a can of sardines, a magnifying glass with no glass and one ice skate. We spent the next two hours playing a game of “one-upmanship” about who had the worst Christmas and who got the worst gifts and laughing until our sides ached. Sharing our worst memories and being able to laugh at them was healing.

This wasn’t the Christmas we wanted. Not the one we could have chosen, but we realized we had friends, good friends, and we could share our worst moments and laugh and not feel so alone.

Later in the day all of us received calls from most of our kids. Christmas isn’t as good as it used to be, and it will never be that way again, but somehow just knowing you aren’t alone, and that someone understands how you feel and someone can make you laugh, that’s a pretty good Christmas gift.

Enjoy this Christmas, love the people you are with, and laugh at your bad gifts, because no other Christmas will ever be exactly like this one.

Bless you this holiday season.

Crying Wind is the author of Crying Wind and My Searching Heart, When the Stars Danced, and Thunder in Our Hearts, Lightning in Our Veins. All her books are available from Indian Life.


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