Christmas: A memoir

Those who know me well know my family takes Christmas very seriously, and by seriously I mean SERIOUSLY.

I believed in Santa Claus until I was well into middle school. Our father, when not raging or sleeping, did everything he could to allow us to live at least one childhood dream: believe in Santa till the cows come home.

One year we purchased “reindeer food”. Looking back it was just hay with gold and silver glitter. But growing up, hey, it’s REAL. Christmas Eve we left Santa a beer and an apple (our family tradition. What better way to prove Santa exists than to have Santa drink a cold brew…something dad or mom was going to do anyway). But this year we got to leave something for the reindeer as well.

My father BOUGHT dog crap from the neighbors, dropped it in our front yard, and sprinkled the reindeer food all over it. We totally bought it! Then again, who wouldn’t! You’d probably believe it now if you woke up to such a site.

Another year we got two big Radio Flyer wagons. “Santa” had hid the wagons in my grandparents’ shed across the street. It snowed more than 12″ on Christmas Eve day. When my father and grandfather brought the wagons over, they left footprints in the snow. They then walked back over their tracks with brooms in hand to wipe away their tracks.

Needless to say, Christmas is a special time for me and my family. Since my parents are no longer in my life, Christmas leaves a massive hole in my heart that causes me to enter a horrible depressive state. Then I realized something, my partner is just as capable of great Christmas antics.

Last year we were both unemployed most of the year. I found a job in November and had been employed less than a month. We lived in a new city, dirt poor, and I had to work on Christmas. Don’t get me wrong, I had plenty to be thankful for, a loving partner, a new job, health. But I really didn’t have the holiday spirit anywhere near my heart. But then I came home late night Christmas Eve.

My partner had found a cute foot tall Christmas tree on clearance, cheap lights, and a couple of cheap gifts. When I came home, it was dark, the tree was lit. Melanie had made everything better with a single gesture that cost us next to nothing. She did what anyone in my family growing up would have done. She truly IS my family.

I remember that moment and realize: I have EVERYTHING to be thankful for this year and every year prior.

I love you, Melanie. Merry Christmas, beautiful.

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