This is not funny. If you’re here for the funny, please feel free to check out the ridiculousness in the archives.
I have had a rough time with the Christmas season for my entire adult life. Sure, there were sometimes deployments scheduled for just after Christmas, or I had to work, or I was six months pregnant with complications and morning sickness that didn’t know it was supposed to vanish after the first trimester or a million other things, but it was always both more and less than that.
Christmas, with all the joy that is supposed to happen, is stressful. There is more cleaning, more food to prepare, more food to eat, more social obligations, more decorating, more shopping, more more more. And of course, more more more also refers to the smiling that is required through the entire thing.
By mid-December, I have usually become a fruitcake scented, festively striped powderkeg, because of how short I fall of the impossible expectations of perfection that I place on myself.
Several years ago, I was trying once again to outdo Martha Stewart, and once again, I was failing miserably. I guess Munchkin was in first grade around then, or maybe she was even a little younger. I was trying so hard to be Merry! And Festive! And Perfect! but I think it was pretty obvious that I was one burnt cookie away from a week long crying jag.
She scurried over to the tree, and pulled out a little tiny box that she had proudly gotten me from Santa Store at school, and insisted I open it.
Guys, no one in the history of any holiday ever wanted to open a present less than I did right then. There was work to do and joy to be forced. Still, she hounded me. Five year olds who insist on things are rather…..tenacious. I opened the clumsily wrapped little box.
In it was a little keychain, blue with a simple yellow butterfly on it. It jingled softly as I rolled it in my hand.
“It’s like Polar Express”, she said. “Only people who hear the bell can like Christmas. You hear it, right?”
I did hear it. She beamed. She hugged me.
And things were all better.
Today, I am sick. I had a million things to accomplish before I even get started on my regular tasks.
I was walking to the market by my house to pick up a few stocking stuffers, tripped in a pothole in the road, dropped my purse and rolled my ankle. I wanted to call the whole thing off. Yes, again. Just like I do every year.
I picked up my purse from the middle of the street. Somewhere, between a grocery list and a lipgloss with dog hair stuck to the cap and a half eaten bag of Skittles, the bell on on the keychain jingled just loud enough for me to hear.
And again, things are all better.