I’m so excited to be participating in the indieBRAG Christmas Blog hop. It has been such a fun event, and I’m a bit sad that it will soon be over.
We all know that Christmas is the celebration of Christ’s birth, yet it seems that these days it can be easy to get caught up in the commercialization of the holiday. We get stressed out over finding the ‘prefect’ gift, where the Elf on the Shelf will be in the morning, what recipe we should use for the holiday party, or if we will offend a stranger by wishing them a Merry Christmas. We push ourselves to achieve a level of perfection that drives us to just want the holiday to be over.
Yet, it’s in those stressful holiday moments when we most forget that no one is perfect—and that we’re not expected to be. It’s the spirit behind all our actions that create the Christmas magic, not the precise execution.
I have to admit that I love (and I mean LOVE) cheesy Christmas movies. I’m talking about the ones you find on the Hallmark and Lifetime channels just about every night in the month of December.
The cheesy Christmas movie isn’t perfect. In fact, some might think they are awful based solely on their predictability. However, for me, it’s this predictability that makes them so appealing to begin with. I need moments in my life when I can just sit back and know that everything is going to turn out all right in the end.
In case you haven’t seen a cheesy Christmas move, here’s the basic plot—someone has lost the Christmas spirit, another has an overabundance, and they come together at the end in an embrace powerful enough to bring down the snow (a.k.a. the cheesy Christmas movie equivalent of fireworks). Often Santa or an angel is there with some Christmas magic to help the two souls find their true destiny.
These cheesy Christmas movies offer all the important feels packed into a cozy two hour punch. There’s hope, love, and many times loss. And usually, these cheesy Christmas movies find a way to remind me that nothing in life is perfect. That I can experience magic in those moments when things don’t go according to plan.
With this in mind, I wanted to share with you some of my past Christmas outtakes—those moments that at the time I wish I could have cut from my cheesy Christmas movie. Yet, when I look back on them now, I can see the Christmas magic in each moment.
Stitches and Socks
One Christmas, when I was very young, we were at my grandparents’ house celebrating with family. I have a cousin who is a year younger and we were often attached at the hip. My grandparents’ house had this small room just off the kitchen, recessed by a step. That year, my cousin and I were having fun by pushing each other off the step and into the lower room. Well, we took it one push too far. It was my turn to push, and my cousin went flying into the room—and right into a chair. Her knee struck the sharp metal edge of the chair, leaving a very gross indent in her knee. Her dad decided that she needed to go in for stitches, and I felt so bad for hurting her. However, those feelings quickly transformed into my own hurt when I learned that I had to give her my socks for the trip (she didn’t have any on and it was cold out). They were my favorite pair—white with a trim of lace at the top. I was so hurt that my mom made me give up my favorite pair of socks. What if she got blood on them, or didn’t give them back? It was my first moment of really realizing how hard it was to give selflessly.
There is one Christmas Eve that really sticks in my mind after all these years. As expected, I was very excited and couldn’t sleep. My parents were about to divorce, and my dad was sleeping on the couch. I was too wound up to stay in my room, so I asked my mom if I could sleep with her. I rolled around her bed in restless anticipation, falling in and out of sleep while listening for sounds of Santa. I woke up at one point and heard some rustling out in the living room. I just knew it was Santa! Although, I worried that he would wake my dad. There was a soft light on in the living room that cast a glow on the hallway wall. Suddenly I saw a shadow—Santa! Then I noticed something strange. Santa rocked back and forth, from one foot to the other, just like my dad. Oh . . . That was the moment I had to shift my belief of Christmas magic belonging to Santa into something else.
Worst Present Ever
Most of the Christmas Eves of my childhood took place in my aunt’s basement with the rest of my mom’s family. It was a fun night of food, games, and presents. When it came time to open presents, the kids would gather on the floor in front of the all the adults. We would each open our presents and proudly show what we received. One year, when I was at that awkward preteen age, I opened the present from my grandparents. It was a pack of red and white lace panties. I was mortified as I had to hold them up for inspection, my face about as red as the panties in the box. I mean, lace panties—from my grandparents! I did my best to smile and say thanks, hoping that my face didn’t betray my true feelings. They were promptly shoved to the back of my drawer when I got home, never to be looked at again. This was the moment I learned the importance of being gracious, even if I wasn’t grateful.
My brother Steve made his way into this world three years prior to my debut, making him much wiser (or at least sneaker). Unlike many kids, I was happy to not know what I was getting for Christmas. I enjoyed the surprise of opening the gift on Christmas morning. My brother—not so much. He wanted to know and went to great lengths to find out. One year in particular, he kept bugging me to tell him what my dad and step-mom got him for Christmas. I didn’t want to tell, so he blackmailed me. He told me that if I didn’t tell him he would tell me what I was getting. I tried to call his bluff, only he wasn’t bluffing. He gave me another chance, slowly spelling out the word B-I-K-E. I wanted to cry. I had lost the excitement of anticipating what I was going to get. The only thing I learned from that moment was that big brothers don’t bluff. OK, maybe I also learned that I could still enjoy a thoughtful gift even if I knew it was coming.
Oh, my brother Steve strikes again with another Christmas mishap. As mentioned above, he found it difficult to wait until Christmas morning to see what lay hidden under all that shinny wrapping paper. We grew up in a small house, which meant my mom didn’t have many options for hiding gifts. Her location of choice was the top shelf in her bedroom closet. One day she called us both into her room and asked who had been in the gift bags. It wasn’t me, and I said as much. I mean, it was obvious who did it. I wasn’t even tall enough to reach the bags! But my brother just shook his head and denied it. Who did my mom believe? Not the good kid, I’ll tell you that. When I opened up the gift in question on Christmas morning she told me I was good at acting surprised. That Christmas morning I learned that the mood under which a gift is given has a strong effect on the enjoyment of the receiver. (Don’t worry, my mom has since appologized—several times—for not believing me.)
These ‘outtakes’ were not monumental moments in my life, yet each had a lasting impact on me. At first, it was primarily because they were painful in some way. However, over time I was able to realize that even though they were small and imperfect, they were moments that helped shape the person I became.
Thanks for stopping by for my Christmas outtakes! I hope that if you experienced any Christmas mishaps this year you are able to soon look back at them and see the magic that is hidden beneath.
Full tour schedule
Tuesday, December 1 : G.Egore Pitir
Thursday, December 3 : R.A.R. Clouston
Friday, December 4 : Helen Hollick
Sunday, December 6 : David Penny
Monday, December 7 : J.B. Hawker
Wednesday, December 9 : Cheri Gillard
Thursday, December 10 : Derek Birks
Thursday, December 17 : Alison Morton
Saturday, December 19 : Anna Belfrage
Monday, December 21 : Joe Perrone Jr.
Wednesday, December 23 : V.L. Thurman
Monday, December 28 : Lisa Brunette
Tuesday, December 29 : Carrie Beckort
Wednesday, December 30 : Jackie Weger
Thursday, December 31 : Anna Castle