Christmas has become my least favorite holiday, a spot that has long been reserved for Valentine’s Day. It’s so overblown and commercial, with expectations heightened beyond all reality.
I typically wait until the last minute to shop and forego decorations altogether, but having a little boy means that I have to make some kind of show, one that becomes a tad more elaborate as he gets older and demands more “festivity.” This year, for example, he insisted on outside lights. I have to say, it has been nice driving up to the house and seeing twinkling lights around the doorway instead of a dark abyss greeting us.
Because I’m such a Christmas curmudgeon, my best friend and son’s godmother, who reeks of the spirit of Christmas all year long, takes over a lot of the shopping for him. It’s something she enjoys, and it takes a load off me, so it works out for all of us.
She let Xander open a present on Christmas Eve. It was a shirt that he loved, and he immediately put it on. The shirt unexpectedly became part of his costume later that night, as he participated in a Christmas pageant at church and had to make an animal costume.
I knew something was up when the head of the children’s program came out to greet me in the sanctuary before the children entered the stage to tell me that my son was “awesome.” “Uh oh,” I thought.
When he walked onto the stage with all the cows, lambs, and mice, I just about died. It was probably the first time ever that Sonic the Hedgehog was on site for the birth of Baby Jesus.
I expected that to be the highlight of my holiday. I mean, it was a good one, right? I finished wrapping gifts that night and felt comforted by the fact that a lot of the presents Xander had asked for were under either my tree or the one at his grandmother’s. There have been a few years that were a lot leaner.
But I decided, at the last minute, to see if I could procure a replacement for something he’d lost two months ago. It was just a stuffed animal, a Baltimore Orioles rally monkey I’d picked up on a work trip to the city last year. But it had become his favorite toy.
He’d left Baltimonkey at a restaurant a few months back and no one turned him in. Xander was devastated. The loss of Baltimonkey had come on the heels of a long-term separation with his dad, and he’d taken both very hard.
I had tried to find Baltimonkey online when he lost him, to no avail. I’d called the store in Baltimore and though they had a few, they were not equipped to mail anything. But I remembered right before Christmas that I’d actually bought two of the monkeys on that trip. I’d given one to the teenaged daughter of a guy I’d been seeing at the time. The breakup had not been amicable, and we hadn’t spoken since, but I decided to contact him to see if his daughter might be willing to sell the monkey back to me.
Christmas morning rolled around, and Xander woke up at a decent 7AM. He came running into my bedroom, holding Baltimonkey and a letter from Santa. “Mommy! Mommy! Santa found Baltimonkey. He and his elves even repaired his neck! I can’t believe it!” I followed Xander out to the living room with my video camera and asked him to read the letter from Santa. He started off fine, but when he got to the paragraph about Baltimonkey, he broke down, tears streaming down his face as he read.
I knew he’d be happy, but I could not have expected his response to having his friend back. I think this may be the best gift I’ve ever given anyone.
Although I think the video is too personal to post, here is a drawing Greg made with the drawing pencils and pad I gave him for Christmas. I think it captures the essence of what will be my favorite Christmas moment for a long time to come.
What about you? What was your favorite holiday moment so far?