The Next One Won’t Even Make It Out Of The House

, , , , , | Healthy | May 27, 2019

(My friend is in labour and it becomes clear she is going to have her baby in the back of the ambulance. She is freaking out.)

Paramedic: *trying to comfort her* “This is nothing. Last year, a woman had a baby in the hospital car park.”

Friend: *wailing* “That was me!”

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Someone Made Your Dream(boat) Come True

, , , , , , , , | Hopeless | May 25, 2019

In 1973 or ‘74, when I was five or six years old, my family and I lived in Phoenix. We had very little in the way of money or material things, but we were a happy little family for the most part. My brother was just a baby, and my sister and I spent our days playing outside in the Arizona sunshine. That year was a particularly lean one for us. We drove up to Flagstaff to cut our own Christmas tree, free of charge back then, I think, and made our decorations from egg cartons and glitter. It must have been a hard time for my mother and stepfather, but I can’t remember really wanting for much; we were always fed and clothed.

I can still remember sitting down at the kitchen table to write my annual letter to Santa. I told him that we didn’t have much, and that I knew he was very busy, but that I had a few small requests for him. My sister loved to read, and I asked him if he could bring her some books and something for my baby brother. We pretty much lived on tuna and macaroni those days and I asked Santa for a ham or turkey as a special treat for our family’s Christmas dinner. I closed my letter with a special request, stating, “If you have room in your sleigh, I would love a Barbie Dream Boat.” I was obsessed with Barbies, and the Dream Boat was all the Barbie rage that Christmas. I sealed the letter in an envelope, gave it to my mother, and really didn’t think much more about it since Mom had told me that kids didn’t always get what they wanted from Santa, seeing as how he was a very busy man with lots of children on his list.

A few days before the “big day,” we went out shopping with the little money we had. We bought gifts for our family and I remember how sad my mom looked while we shopped that day. Looking back, I know that her melancholy was due to not being able to give her children the fantastic holiday that all children desire. I was sad for her.

We returned home from our excursion and piled into the house, removing our coats and falling back into whatever activities were abandoned earlier in the day. Minutes later, I remember hearing bells and a hearty, “Ho, Ho, Ho!” from the front yard of our run-down little house. My sister and I ran out onto the front porch to see our stepfather walking toward the house, arms full of brightly-wrapped presents. Much to our delight, there were more on the tailgate of our old Willys Jeep, including a big ham. He told us that Santa had just been there, saying that he had made a special early trip to our humble home. He explained that the bells we had heard were from Santa’s sleigh and that we had just missed seeing him fly away with his reindeer. We were all very excited, me especially, happy in the knowledge that Mr. Claus had read my letter.

Christmas morning was delightful! Santa had filled my entire list, complete with a set of Winnie-the-Pooh books for my sister and a Mickey Mouse blanket for my baby brother. There were gloves for all of us, and big marker sets for my sister and me. The biggest present of all was for me, and you never saw such a happy little girl when I finally took off the wrapping. It was the Barbie Dream Boat I had asked for! It was a happy Christmas, indeed!

I got many hours of fun playtime out of that cardboard and plastic boat, and we all enjoyed the presents that “Santa” had brought us. We filled our tummies with ham and had a wonderful day. For many years to come, I was a firm believer in Santa Claus, even though he never again gave me exactly the items on my wish list. After all, he was a very busy man with lots of children’s dreams to fulfill.

Many years later, my mother and stepfather sat my sister and me down on the couch and said that they had something to tell us. They reminded us of that Christmas, which we still remembered well. We were 12 and 14 by that time, and our belief in Santa was fading fast, if not completely gone. They told us of a postal worker in Phoenix who picked one child’s letter each year, and that the letter he picked that year was mine. He had told my parents that my letter touched his heart because I had put myself last on the list, thinking of my family before asking for myself. They had prearranged a time for him to drop off the goodies, and staged it so that it would seem as if Santa had really been there. I have to admit I was just a little crushed to find out that it wasn’t really St. Nick who had paid us a visit that year, but I knew in my adolescent mind that it just couldn’t have been.

It warms my heart to this day to share that story, and to think about the way that postal worker made our holiday a happy one. I often wish that I knew his name so that I could thank him personally, but I’m sure he knows how much it meant to all of us.

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Mothers Are Mothers, Too

, , , , , , , | Hopeless | May 12, 2019

I’ve never enjoyed going to church. I could barely keep myself awake during the services because I found the whole thing boring. I still see myself as Christian; I just don’t like going to mass. Every Sunday, my little brother and I would try our best to sleep in — or pretend to sleep in — until our parents just gave up and left without us. I celebrated when I finally got my Confirmation and they couldn’t force me to go anymore. I still went for Midnight Mass because it was a Christmas tradition, but never at any other point.

One Saturday, though, my dad pulled me aside and asked if I could go to church with mom the next day. He was doing the reading and he didn’t want to leave her alone. I didn’t really get it, but I figured that since that Sunday was Mother’s Day, I’d throw her a bone. Sure, I’d already gotten her a present, but he seemed pretty insistent.

So I went. Mom was pretty surprised, but she wasn’t complaining. I was doing my best to try and not look like I was on the verge of passing out, as usual, when about halfway through the service, I finally got a good look at my mom.

She looked like she was trying — and failing — not to cry.

That was when it hit me; this was her first Mother’s Day after her mother, my grandmama, had passed away from lung cancer. We weren’t that close, but I couldn’t even imagine what Mom had been going through all day. Immediately feeling horrible for silently treating this like a burden, I snuck in a hug and made sure she knew how much I loved her and appreciated everything she did for me. She hugged me back and finally let herself straight-up cry.

I couldn’t even begin to imagine my life without her, even now as I’m living on my own. She doesn’t have to imagine life without her mother; she’s living it.

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Daddy Issues All Over The Country

, , , , , | Friendly | March 21, 2019

(My family has a running joke that my dad knows everyone; this fact will be important later. I moved to Alabama from Louisiana about six months before this story. It is an eight-hour drive from one city to the other. My partner and I are three hours into the drive to visit my family when a tire pops on the interstate. Our spare is also ruined, and was supposed to be replaced a month ago at a visit to the tire shop. It takes about three hours to get to the tire shop from the interstate and to get news about the state of our tires. At this point, it’s not looking hopeful. The salesman tells us the tire and spare are both no good, and he has none in the same size. But, LUCKILY, he has a tire that was special ordered to be picked up that day, but the man who ordered it had to reschedule pickup for a few days longer. So, he sells us the tire and reorders for the other customer. We are paying, and the guy asks where we are headed:)

Me: “I’m from [City] in Louisiana, so we’re going to visit my family.”

Salesman: “That’s where I was born and raised. Who’s your kin?”

Me: “[Last Name].”

Salesman: “Oh, I went to high school with a [Dad], [Aunt], and [Cousin].

(My partner starts laughing while I just sigh.)

Me: “My dad is [Dad]. And he does literally know everyone, no matter where I go!”

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Please Remember To Rewind Your Bundles Of Joy

, , , , , , | Related | January 3, 2019

(After years of trying to adopt, my parents are about to give up on the idea of “kids,” when I am suddenly “put on the market,” as it were. The whole process is a rather rushed affair, so not everyone my parents’ know hears about my homecoming beforehand. One of our next-door neighbors is a very nice woman who’s always been very friendly towards our family. On a side note, this takes place shortly after home video devices have become more commonplace.)

Neighbor: “So, what are you guys getting each other for Christmas?”

Mom: *trying not to laugh* “Something pretty special… and expensive.”

Neighbor: “A new vacuum cleaner?”

Mom: “Smaller, and more expensive.”

Neighbor: “I know! You’re finally getting a VCR!”

Mom: *trying even harder not to grin* “Looks like you’ll just have to come over tomorrow and see.”
(You can imagine our neighbor’s surprise when she saw a five-month-old baby girl, instead! Apparently, my parents had always been a bit slow to update their tech, because several other people also thought I was a VCR!)

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