My crazy Christmas: Westword writers share their holiday stories
Christmas can be intense: Rife with familial undercurrents and financial strain, the yuletide can bring a time of crushing disappointment, dissolving relationships, mounting tension and exploding tempers -- but if we open our hearts and we wish hard enough, it just might also be a time of redemption. As it turns out, those hoary themes have been Christmas realities for many of us here at Westword, and so today we bring you those stories, the stories of our weird, dumb, touching and strangely familiar Christmas.
Guiding a Santa
If you can just make it through middle school, everything will be OK. It's true for most people I know, but me especially. That's because I have an incredibly high sensitivity for allergens floating in the air. The tiniest amount of dust or pollen or airborne pollutants sends me into hysterical sneezing fits. And when I was in seventh grade, it reached the point where I had to leave school all the time and get take-home assignments to do in my hermetically sealed bedroom. When I was actually in school, no one picked me in gym class and no one would play tetherball with me at recess. I was just that weird kid who sneezed all the time.
In time, I've come to adapt. I'm a freelance writer, so I can work from home in an environment I control. Sometimes, I'll get through entire weeks without a single incident. Christmas is never one of those weeks. You can't stay in this time of year, not with all the family visiting and parties to attend. So I load up on Claritin and surgical masks and brave the world.
This year, everyone from both sides of my family came to town. It's a big crew: 23 aunts and uncles, and most of them have kids. Most of us grew up here, so the out-of-towners had busy schedules for their holiday vacations: lots of people to see and catch up with. Everyone wanted to go to Zoo Lights, so we decided to use the rare opportunity with all the young kids in one place to give them all one of their Christmas presents. My uncle Bob snuck out while the tykes were occupied marveling at the ice sculptures to dress up like Santa (he looks the part) and bring a big bag we'd filled with the toys when he came back. In retrospect, not our best idea.
Because, as you probably are aware, Zoo Lights is a total clusterfuck of people. The kids were getting bored and we couldn't keep them in front of the ice sculptures, and as we moved through the displays, time passed and Bob was no where to be seen. It was getting late, we were almost to the end of the loop and our planned special Christmas was in jeopardy. We went back to the elephant house to distract the kids, one of the elephants farted, another one kicked up a bunch of hay, and I guess I hadn't tightened my mask enough because my allergies started going crazy.
I thought my head would explode. People were backing away from me, family included (thanks for the help, assholes) and pretty soon I was leaning against a railing. It was hard to see because my eyes were so watery, but I thought I saw, out of the corner of my eye, something red, coming closer. My aunt Ruth (who is a bodybuilder) was carrying me out toward the car when I realized Santa Bob had found us. The last thing I heard before I passed out was the delighted screams of my young cousins, opening their presents.
One magical sack
Christmas just ain't the same when you live in Florida. It's usually still hot as hell and sunny and the chances of having a white Christmas are about as good as me making TV commercials with Dallas Cowboy cheerleaders.
But it's still always been just about my favorite time of year. Ever since I was a little kid, I always felt like it was my own personal holiday. Heck, I even remembered the names of reindeers like, Donder and Blister.
That's what I was telling this dude with a big white beard sitting in the back of my cab on Christmas Eve. He was saying he was Santa Claus and that he was in town to find someone to replace him. He was supposed to meet the guy that was at the Children's Museum, where I dropped him off. When the old guy offered to pay me (with money with his face on it), I refused. Heck, I was just trying to get in the Christmas spirit.
My boss wasn't too happy with letting some old guy ride for free, so I got fired. But the crazy thing was that while my boss was telling me to get lost he threw a red bag at me that was left in trunk.
Turns out it was Santa's big red sack. And there's one person authorized to carry that sack, and it's his big, red, oneness: The Claus. So it became my mission to get it back to him. I guess in the meantime, Santa had been trying to pawn off his gig on the other guy, but he wasn't buying it. He thought the old guy kept saying his name was "Santos." That would scare me since the only guy I know named Santos Santos wanted to kill this dude who talked like Elvis and went by the name Sailor.
But that's a whole ball of wax. So me and this chick that I'd picked up earlier named Harmony were looking for Santa to give him his sack back. And we'd also realized that Santa's big red sack, well, it had magical powers. Sure, I've had a few gals say that my red sack had magical powers too. Wait, did you hear that?
Anyway, we finally did get Santa's sack back to him. And I think we kind of... saved Christmas. And for some crazy reason it started snowing too. That sack really did have magical powers!