Wednesday, December 15, 2010

The 12 Memories of Christmas: Sleigh Bells Ring ... You Better Be List'nin'!

Technology is an incredible thing.

At the touch of a button, I can simultaneously record the 11 p.m. SportsCenter and watch the NASA channel's coverage of whatever's going on at the International Space Station (most of the time? Not all that much). I can make popcorn in the time it used to take to pour the cup of kernels into a stockpot of boiling oil, and, thanks to Twitter, Randall Cobb doesn't so much as jones for some cheese biscuits that I don't know about it a nanosecond later.

There are, it turns out, other uses for technology, as well.

At four years old, I had never heard of NORAD. Apparently, however, someone at WSAZ, the local NBC affiliate, had, and apparently, this someone - probably Mr. Cartoon - decided it would be a swell idea to interrupt the station's regularly-scheduled Christmas Eve programming in order to alert tri-state children of Santa's celestial whereabouts.

Now, if you read the first of this year's 12 memories of Christmas, you probably remember that Christmas Eves were kinda crazy for us. We'd celebrate with one side of the family. Then, we'd drive nearly an hour to celebrate with the other. Then we'd drive nearly an hour back to where we'd started. We did this, because Mom and Daddy had given Santa Mayme's address, and for some reason, Sissy and I INSISTED on sleeping wherever Santa was expected. Still, if you add up all these hours - and the time it took for us to tell Mayme and Papaw of all the gifts we'd gotten from Granny and Grandpa - you're getting way closer to midnite than most four year olds ever come.

In fact, that's where the second memory of Christmas begins. It was just before midnite on Christmas Eve, 1981. I remember sitting on the red cushions of the rocking chair that sat just a few feet away from the massive picture window through which I could've seen the moon - and the neighbor's plastic nativity - reflecting off the Ohio River. I probably could've seen Santa's sleigh, too, had I been looking. Instead, I was yapping away, most likely talking about my favorite new doll or the fact that Sissy, a girl, had asked the Big Man for a GI Joe trainset. Of all things.

Whatever the discussion was of, it was quickly - and abruptly - interrupted by NORAD. "Well, Kids," someone in slick hair and a sports coat said, "Santa and his sleigh have been spotted somewhere around Camden Park. It won't be long now!" Mom or Daddy or someone in charge said, "Kristin, you'd better get in the bed. If you're not asleep before midnite, Santa won't stop here tonite!"

Like a jet. Like a rocket. Like a John Wall fast break, I took off for the bed I'd be sharing with my sister. Never had my fat little legs carried me faster than they did that nite. Track marks of my fleet feet stained Mayme's hardwoods for decades to follow, but I was under the covers, eyes sealed shut, before was uttered the "to" in "tonite."

Then came Mom.

"Krissy, you need to go potty." Clearly, she didn't understand the situation. Christmas was my one shot a year at having twelve months' worth of wishes come true. Sure, there were birthdays - but what good were those? A cake? Some candles? Maybe a party at Skateland USA? Please. Santa could provide for me things that Mom and Daddy couldn't. Missing him was not a chance I was willing to take, even if it meant waking up ... slightly soiled.

Mom made me at least try, Daddy laughing, for some reason, in the background. They parked me on the toilet. I remember trying to fall asleep there. My thinking was, if I can't be asleep in the bed, maybe Santa will understand the technicality that I was, actually, asleep, even if it was on a "mattress" made of nearly frigid porcelain. But while I'm telling myself to fall asleep, my parents are barking at me to go pee-pee, and it was all just overload, more than anyone should ever have to handle, especially a four year old whose entire year's worth of wishes are in danger of being, well, flushed down the porcelain mattress of dashed dreams.

"Kristin, go."
Mom was growing impatient.
"I can't!" I honestly responded, my eyes squeezed tightly shut. "I can't! I can't!"

And I couldn't - mostly because I couldn't imagine missing out on my big chance for my even bigger haul. My parents, apparently, didn't grasp this fact. I remember all the grown-ups just laughing their fool heads off as I dashed around. This confused me; it was not at all a joking matter. As NORAD might've put it, we were at DEFCON RED, as far as I was concerned.

Fortunately, though, I did, eventually, fall asleep. Santa did ultimately come, and Sissy woke up to her GI Joe trainset.

I, on the other hand, woke up - yes, slightly soiled - to an entire year's worth of wishes and a wise certainty that Santa understands that parents just don't understand.


  1. This was one of the funniest things you ever did. You had never moved so fast before and have not since with the possible exception of the time Leslie and I convinced you we had a "stiff" in the trunck of my company car.

  2. And I was wise to make you go. could have been more than "slightly soiled". I also remember not being able to get a kiss from you that night. "I can't, I gotta go to sleep".

  3. HA HA! This was so funny Kristin! I'm glad Santa still came. I thought maybe this would be the night you blacked your eye on Mayme's bed trying to get there....must have been another time:)

  4. @Mom - look at you, learning how to post a comment! It's a Christmas MIRACLE!

    @Leri - that was actually the nite I was pretending to box with the big bad wolf in the Little Room. Apparently, my "moves" were too much for the braided rug I was standing on, because it slid, causing me to make some pretty high-octane contact with the bed rail. Thus, the double black eyes. And now you know ... the REST of the story.