Spending Christmas Eve in the dark

Published 7:13 pm Tuesday, December 30, 2008

The presents have been unwrapped, and most people are beginning the arduous task of taking down their Christmas trees and decorations. I always feel such sadness whenever I have to begin this yearly task. The anticipation and excitement is over; the shiny presents have been unwrapped, Santa has come and gone, and little children are playing with their hi-tech Wii games, while I’m sitting here admiring my new set of bed sheets.

What happened to getting that new doll house, or a shiny new bike, or even a plastic Easy-Bake oven with that 60-watt bulb that either overcooked or undercooked my little round cakes? (No wonder I never learned how to cook.)

How can I go from being given Malibu Barbie in her Malibu convertible to getting bed sheets and expect to maintain that same level of anticipation and excitement at Christmas time?

I believe it’s called adulthood, and this is one time of the year when I yearn not to be one.

Okay—enough whining. My family actually started Christmas off with a bang this year – literally. As you all know, we had quite a few storms to rumble through our area on Christmas Eve. Well, we were sitting in my mom’s den talking and laughing before suppertime, when the next thing I knew the entire darkness outside the den windows was lit up with a blinding flash of light. Add to that the sharpest (and closest) POW! of lightning I’ve ever heard and a BOOM! that almost knocked me out of my chair, and you have a near heart-attack experience waiting to happen. I screamed, my sister-in-law screamed, my momma screamed, and I’m sure somewhere in all that feminine fear my brothers screamed too, even though they might not admit it.

Everything immediately went black, and as soon as I could breathe again, I checked to make sure the hair on my head hadn’t been singed.

We all went in search of candles, and as soon as everyone settled down, we began to laugh at each other for screaming. We dipped our plates (does anyone else still say that anymore?) and had a wonderful Christmas Eve supper by candlelight. In fact, we were so engrossed in our conversations, that there was a collective, “Awww,” when the lights came back on. That was definitely a first for me and my family at Christmas.

By the way, a couple of weeks ago, I wrote about how I was not the biggest fan of my cousin’s annual Christmas letters. Little did I know how much response I would get from several of you who felt the same way I did. Well, Christmas Day had come and gone, and guess what? No letter. My guilt-ridden conscience had convinced me that she had somehow read my column and figured out my target. But I was wrong.

The day after Christmas, I walked to Momma’s mailbox, and what do you know? There it was.

I walked inside grinning like a possum, all the while waving it in the air.

“Look what just came, Momma!”

She looked at me as if to say, “Shame on you,” all the while trying not to laugh.

We sat down at the kitchen table and I, with that little devil and his pitchfork sitting on one shoulder, dutifully read the letter in its entirety out loud. All the while, the little devil sitting on my shoulder kept saying, “You know you want to laugh; you know you want to laugh.”

Meanwhile, the sweet little angel sitting on my other shoulder kept saying, “Shame on you, Regina! She’s family!”

Well, you know what they say—what goes around comes around.

When I returned home, I had a big envelope sticking out of the mailbox.

New Zealand.

I tore into it to find three beautiful family photos, including one of little Luverne Wright celebrating her first birthday. And what else is in it? Little Luverne’s mom, Sooz Wright, has sent me her annual Christmas letter that she has mailed to all her family and friends.

About the third paragraph down, this is what I read:

“I have also made a new friend this year. Miss Regina Grayson is the editor of The Luverne Journal in Luverne, Alabama. We wanted to put Luverne’s birth notice in their paper, and so Regina and I started corresponding, and our friendship has grown from there. Her photo is on our kitchen wall, so it feels like she lives just around the corner rather than so, so far away.”

Okay, I’ll never make fun of annual Christmas letters again.