Now that November is drawing to a close I’m starting to feel all Christmas spirity (that is so a word). I really, really love Christmas. It’s definitely the best holiday by far, and it lasts for weeks. Most people start getting a little twitchy when they hear Rudolf the Red-nosed Reindeer for the hundredth time around December 20th, but I still sing along every time and I don’t even care if everyone feels like punching me.
This holiday seems to bring out the best in people, and I find that most people are much nicer and more giving this time of year. This is a pretty friendly town anyway, but the holidays seem to make people extra friendly. We even have a group of volunteers armed with quarters and Santa hats who wander around downtown during the month of December plugging parking meters that are about to expire. How cool is that?
I love Christmas every year, but there were a few years in the ol' FoN household that were pretty lean, to say the least. I remember a few times making the kids eat their cereal one at a time because they needed to share the bowl of milk. The argument in my house wasn’t whose turn it was to play on the computer; it was whose turn it was to get the fresh bowl of milk at breakfast.
This one Christmas was particularly bad and I was really sweating how I was going to make this holiday fun for the kids without gifts. Now, they wouldn’t have been totally deprived, the hubby and I both have fairly well-off extended families who always give the kids nice gifts at Christmas, but it REALLY sucks as a parent to have to choose between keeping the phone on and having something under the tree for your children come Christmas morning.
I didn’t exactly advertise the true dire straights of our financial position, so I’m not sure how many people really knew how poor we actually were (luckily I didn’t have many visitors for breakfast). At least one of our friends clued in though. I’m going to call her Donna.
Donna and her then husband Shit-for-Brains (he turned out to be quite the fucktard, but that’s a story for another time) called us up one night and asked if they could come over for a Christmas drink. I was initially panicked because not only did I not have any booze to offer them, I didn’t have ANY beverages to offer them. What was I going to say? “Sure! Come on over for a glass of tap-water cheer!”? Hearing my, ummm, uhh…..she quickly followed up by saying she had a bottle of rye and some coke she would like to bring. We didn’t get to see her very often so I said sure, come on over (a bottle of rye will get you in the door at my house every time).
Donna and S-f-B showed up about an hour later with a bottle rye, some mix, and a big bag of something. “What’s in the bag?” I asked. “Are you going to do your laundry while you’re here?” “No”, she said laughing. “We brought a few things over for the kids”.
In the bag that Donna brought were gifts for my kids – three gifts each, actually. She had them beautifully wrapped with their names on each, but nothing filled out in the ‘from’ tag. She then told me that she and Santa were buddies and that sometimes he gets her to help out on the extra busy years by delivering gifts for him a few days before Christmas if he doesn’t think he’ll make it to certain houses Christmas morning. The other four gifts, she said, were for me to give the kids because she knew how ‘busy’ I was and that I might not get a chance to go shopping.
I was so grateful to this woman that I almost started bawling right there; I didn’t even know what to say. Donna is not the type who goes looking for accolades, so she then promptly poured us all a stiff rye, put on some tunes and started dancing in my kitchen. We had a great night; had a few drinks, played some cards and didn’t mention the gifts she brought for us again.
I don’t see her that much anymore, maybe once or twice a year, but I will always remember what she did for us that Christmas. She probably doesn’t even remember doing it, but I will never forget the random kindness she showed us for no other reason than to make sure we had a good Christmas.
We’re not poor anymore, thank god. Not only do my kids all get their own milk with their cereal at breakfast time, but they have about four different types of cereal to choose from. My oldest daughter kind of remembers being poor, but my son has no recollection of it at all. If I told him he had to share his cereal milk today he would laugh hysterically at such a thought. The baby wasn’t yet born so she will grow up a privileged south-ender having no idea what going without whatever she needs is like. I’m simultaneously happy and horrified by that thought.
So the next time you’re in the store ready to go postal because the crowds and the Christmas carols are making you a little stabby, think of Donna and her bag of toys and bottle of rye. Then look around at your friends, neighbours, strangers, whoever, and go pull a Donna. Figure out what their bag of toys and bottle of rye is to them and go all Santa on their ass.