Okay, so 2019 has been a bit of a whirlwind year with the move to Vegas, starting a new job, and French Charming having a bad back that has ultimately required surgery. I’m vowing for 2020 to have us back on track….me writing more, us traveling more, and just getting a little more settled in our lives after the move. HOWEVER, with the approaching holiday season I always get super excited about decorating and I always remember funny stories from Christmases past. One of my favorite Christmas movies of all time is Christmas Vacation. All the shenanigans that happen in that movie make me laugh no matter how many times I have seen it. Today I was thinking of some of my own family shenanigans…we’ve had some doozies!
“Go to sleep so Santa can come”
All parents have probably struggled at some point to get their kids to go to bed so that Santa can come – ie the parents can get all the presents out, wrap them, etc. and still sleep a few hours before the kids are awake and going crazy.
I was probably around 5 years old and it was just before Christmas. I almost wiped out a whole box of chocolate mint candy by myself. Shortly after, I had developed hives so badly my fingers wouldn’t even bend. My mother rushed me to an emergency room. I don’t remember getting a shot, but I guess I was given some medicine, probably Benadryl. At that time Benadryl was prescription only and my mother kept a bottle of it for me in case this happened again. She had decided it was the mint candy that I had reacted to and from that moment I was not allowed to eat anything with mint. Plus, you all know the side effects of Benadryl…..drowsiness. For me, whenever I have taken Benadryl, I am a zombie for a good 12 hours. From then on it was also decided that each year on Christmas Eve I should take a Benadryl to keep me from having hives….just in case. You see how this was beneficial for my parents right?
This little scenario worked for a couple years. When I was about 9 years old, my brothers and I were decorating the tree with candy canes. My brothers were both eating one and I wanted one so badly…..so I ate one. I didn’t tell my mother at first. After a good hour or so when nothing had happened, I ran and told her “I don’t need to take the Benadryl anymore! I ate a candy cane and nothing happened!”
I can’t say my mother was as excited about that revelation as I was. That year on Christmas Eve my mother announced that we would start a new tradition….a Christmas toast! She poured each of us 1/4 of a glass of wine, we made a toast, drank the wine, and were sent to bed so Santa could come. It took me a few years to figure out that the wine replaced the Benadryl and was even better because my brothers had it too! Our mother drugged us to make us sleep on Christmas Eve! Ingenious really.
The Christmas Nativity Scene
Now, who hasn’t had the church Christmas nativity pageant mishap? Let me tell you about ours. My little brother must have been about 5 or 6 years old and was cast as one of the shepherds in the nativity. (You know, a non-talking part where all he had to do was walk up the aisle to the manger and kneel.) We belonged to a baptist church and since we didn’t go all the time, we were “back row” baptists meaning we sat in the last pew. This particular year I wasn’t in the nativity and thus sat back with my mother to watch.
My little brother had insisted on making his own costume. He had borrowed a bathrobe from our grandfather. It was a decent choice, vertically striped with dark colors of blue, green, and brown. He had used a long brunette wig that my mother had to make a long beard. He used a towel and headband to make his headdress. My mother didn’t double check any of this as he seemed to know what he was doing.
So here we were listening to the story of the birth of Jesus as the community children walked up the aisle on cue for their corresponding parts to join the nativity scene at the front of the church. The lighting was slightly dimmed throughout except for the bright light shining upon the manger. The pianist played the traditional songs gently in the background. When it came time for the shepherds to walk up the aisle we turned to watch my little brother make his entrance. He was the last one of the group entering. The robe, the beard, the headdress were all on point and hilarious at the same time considering how small he was. As he made his way up the aisle in the middle of the church, my mother looked in horror, I let out a giggle, more giggles and gasps were heard throughout the church as he made his way up to the manger. Once there…he kneeled paying honor to the baby Jesus…..and there it was, for all to see. His white towel he had used as part of his headdress, secured with a headband, had a vivid green cursive lettering spelling out “Holiday Inn” for all to see! No room at the Inn took on a whole new meaning that evening! My mother and I laughed so hard we were crying. I don’t remember where my older brother was that night but he was the one who had smuggled the towel home in his suitcase at some point. I think we made a very quick exit at the end of the festivities that night.
The Crazy Aunts or Uncles
We all have had the crazy aunt or uncle who always adds to the holiday memories. My mother’s brothers have given us a many wonderful Christmas memories.
Each year on Christmas Eve we spent the early part of the evening at my Dad’s parents to exchange gifts and have dinner. Then we came back to our house and many of my mom’s siblings would come over and have a glass of wine (part of the Christmas toast). They also were delivering our Christmas presents because there was no safe place to hide them in our house.
One Christmas Eve, one uncle decided to come over dressed as Santa Clause after having a few drinks at his in-laws’. He thought it would be fun to jump the fence, come through our back yard, and show up at the back patio door as Santa. I think he must have had several “Christmas toasts” because he forgot about our Doberman Pinscher in the back yard. He made it to the back patio door really fast! I don’t know where our presents were….they must have come later.
Another year my mom and her siblings had all chipped in together to get my grandfather a Volkswagen bug, an old one just like he had had long ago. It was hidden in my parents’ garage. My uncles were supposed to get the car and take it over to my grandparent’s home Christmas Eve. I think we were at my other grandparents’ for Christmas Eve festivities and my mother told my uncles to just go in the side door to the garage to get the car.
We would put our little dog, Tina, out in the garage when we were gone as she was getting old and couldn’t always be trusted in the house anymore. She was a little fox terrier, almost crippled from her arthritis, and nearly blind with her cataracts. Mom forgot to tell the uncles about the dog being in the garage but really didn’t figure she would pose a problem. However, I guess late at night, when entering a dark garage to take a car…when you hear a dog barking you probably imagine the worst or biggest! My parents came home just in time to find one uncle holding the side door shut and the other two on top of the VW bug to avoid the dog.
Oh Christmas Tree..Oh Christmas Tree
What about Christmas tree fiascos? There are two that come to mind, both associated with moving. We had always had real Christmas trees….until we moved into town (from the country). The first Christmas in the new house, we had a real tree…for about a week. We had the perfect place for it right in front of the big window in the front of the house. We decorated it and even had some presents under it. My younger brother and I would lay on the floor next to it at night and listen to Christmas music watching the twinkling lights. However, the one thing my mother didn’t think about was the central heat we now had (we always had gas heat before) and the vents on the floor to each side of the tree. The poor tree was dead in a week! Needles falling all over the place. We had to urgently undecorate the tree, get an artificial tree, and start all over.
Several years later, (I had already moved out on my own) my parents and younger brother (now in high school) moved back out to the country. The plan was to build a house on the property they owned. The house in town sold much quicker than expected and the new owners wanted to be in it before Christmas! My parents went to plan B and bought a prebuilt home and had it moved to the new site early December! My mother was determined to be in their new house for Christmas as well, even though the water pipes weren’t connected, (ie no running water so no flushing toilets either) and the gas wasn’t connected (ie no heat). Electricity was all they had and my mother was determined to make it work. My mom had picked out a real Christmas tree for the new house. My brother put the tree in the back of his truck and he and my dad were driving to the new house with it. My mother was following behind them in her car. It was only a ten minute drive, a couple miles on the interstate before the country dirt roads.
During the highway portion, the tree blew out of the back of the truck! My mom saw it fly out of the truck and onto the side of the highway and pulled over a little ways after passing it. The guys hadn’t noticed and kept going. As she was waiting to safely turn around to go back and get it, another truck pulled off the road, threw the tree in the back of their truck, and took off!! Someone stole her perfect tree!! Right in front of her!! She cried hysterically that night. My brother felt so badly that he went and got her another tree as soon as he could.
We did have Christmas there that year…with electric heaters and blankets and a five gallon bucket with a lid as a toilet. A Christmas to remember for sure!
That’s just a sampling of my childhood Christmas stories. What about you?? Any crazy Christmas stories?? I’d love to hear them!!