Monday, December 21, 2015
The Year I was Very Bad
When my daughter was quite small, before she could read, she and I celebrated a Christmas alone. I was recently separated, we had moved into a new place and I was trying as hard as I could to make a nice holiday for her. This would be the first Christmas we were ever alone just the two of us.
For weeks prior to Christmas, I had purchased toys and gifts for her and hidden them in the attic of our house in anticipation of Christmas morning. Being a single mother was a challenge as money was tight, but I had carefully planned how to spend what I could and still get her the special things she wanted that year.
We bought a tree at a local Christmas tree stand and brought it home and decorated it. On Christmas eve, she carefully hung her stocking up after I assured her that Santa would know how to find her in our new home. We set out the traditional milk and cookies for Santa along with carrots for his reindeer and I tucked her into bed where I hoped visions of sugarplums would dance in her head.
That evening, once she was sound asleep in bed, I pulled the attic steps down from the ceiling and crept up to retrieve the gifts I had hidden. Most of that night I spent wrapping presents, tying on ribbons and bows and carefully placing them under the tree. I think it was about 5:00 am when I finally laid my head down on my pillow to sleep. Not too much later a very excited little girl awoke me with cries of "Santa's been here!". I pulled my bleary eyed self out of bed and we made our way into the living room to the wondrous sight of a beautifully light tree with brightly colored packages arrayed underneath it.
She quickly set to work pulling package after package out from under the tree. She had to keep asking me to read the tags to her so she would know who the gifts were for. (Of course they were all for her). Eventually she exhausted the pile and turned to me with a very odd expression on her face.
Looking strangely at me she declared in a solemn voice: "Mommy, you must have been awfully bad this year, Santa didn't leave you anything!". I was thunderstruck when I realized that I had failed to put any gifts under the tree for myself. I guess I thought she wouldn't notice and then I felt terrible as I wondered what awful things she might be thinking I could have done to warrant not receiving any gifts. I felt as low as George Bailey standing on that bridge. I managed to cover by suggesting that Santa just forgot me. An already sad Christmas was made even sadder by my small child full of the wonder of the holiday and fear that her mother was, actually, fallible.
There would be many more Christmases, wonderful memories and very happy times to come, but that year was particularly poignant. I have never forgotten that morning and you can bet the next Christmas I remembered to put some gifts under the tree for myself.
Wishing you the joy and wonder of a small child this holiday season! I hope you behaved yourself and that there will be gifts for you from Santa.