We didn’t ‘do’ Santa Clause growing up. He just didn’t factor into our celebration of Christmas. No Elf on the Shelf. We happily consumed our own cookies and milk. And the only bearded jolly guy we had was my dad or Mr. Joe.
This wasn’t some evil ploy of my parents to deprive us of the joy of a modern, American Christmas. It’s just that, well, Jesus was quite a celebration enough for my parents. We got presents, had a tree, eat good food, watched A Christmas Story, baked, cooked and sang off key Christmas carols with the best of them. It helped that none of my friends in the neighborhood really did the Santa thing either.
My fondest Christmas memories involve sitting in the Arconti’s living room with the lights off and only the light of their Christmas tree illuminating our happy young faces as we listened to “Amy Grant-A Christmas Album”. We were in awe. I can’t speak for the other kids (I’m pretty sure they were all contemplating the mystery of Divinity clothed in human frailty, and that He, while tested just as we are, remained sinless…they’re just like that…) but I was overcome with the general sparkle. Sparkly things till distract me.
I have many of these type memories. It was something we did quite often. But THE best Christmastide memory I have far out strips all of those comfy moments in its level of pure epic-ness.
I don’t recall exactly WHY we were doing this, but, hey, there were 5 of us involved…and it really did start out harmless…it’s a fast paced story…try to keep up.
So, there we stood, Regina, Grace, John, David and myself, (and maybe Peter… I don’t remember.) all squished into the upstairs hallway of the Arconti’s house. The only light illuminating our scene was coming up the stairs from the Christmas tree and the down stairs windows. I recall so clearly the moment, but I can assure you (because I’ve checked….) there are at LEAST 5 different accounts of what actually went down from this point on. I can only give you mine, and perhaps fill in some of the gasps from other people’s perspectives.
So, we’re singing “Oh Holy Night” at the top of our voices outside of Mr. and Mrs. Arconti’s bedroom door, on the other side of which, Mrs. Arconti was trying to sleep. When we get to the part where the listener is instructed to “fall on their knees and hear the angle voices”, someone to my left started pulling on my shirt, which coincides perfectly with Regina’s blood curdling scream and the sound of loud feet running up the stairs. I automatically assumed that whatever it was causing Regina to scream so spectacularly had gotten ahold of me. And as every child knows, the safest place to be in case of emergency is in the presence of the nearest adult. This must be achieved as quickly as possible. Even if that means breaking down the door to the bedroom to do so. I don’t know what happened, to be perfectly honest. All I remember is grabbing…well, I’m not sure who I grabbed, but I grabbed someone and rushed head long, with the rest of the throng at my heels-or where they in front of me? Who knows. However it happened, and whether the door was actually knocked in like I remember, or opened suddenly, the effect was the same. Five frightened, frantic and slightly giggly children where unceremoniously deposited in a squirming heap on Miss Mary Grace’s bedroom floor.
Now, this was over 10 years ago. We’ve compared notes over the years, and come up with a somewhat factual reconfiguration of the actual events.
First off, the person pulling on me was my best friend Grace, urging me to ‘fall on my knees’, NOT a horrible ax murderer determined to slaughter us all in the upstairs hall way.
Regina’s scream was caused by John. We thought was with us the whole time, but had evidently slipped downstairs at some point, and was coming up the stairs at that exact moment. Due to the fact that the lights where dim and he was back lit, he cast a giant shadow that Regina wasn’t expecting.
Regina’s scream made him think someone was after him, because why would his appearance cause his older sister to scream like Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz??
So, he ran faster, making me think something along the lines of “Oh GOD! Not only am I being attacked, there’s someone coming up the stairs to get the rest of them!” So, as best I can remember, I Hulked out and took out a bedroom door. Oops.
Now, I’m sure that after reading my account, the other members of the fiasco will have entirely different stories-I recall one version where Grace knew what was going on the whole time- but, that’s not the point, is it? The point is this-IT HAPPENED. It happened around Christmas. And we all remember it. In our own wacky way, we created a Christmas legend.
And all without the help of that jolly old Elf…and I don’t men Elrond.