Growing up in Minnesota, the holidays were a magical time filled with white flaky snow, ice skating, crackling fireplaces, black ice on the roads and black-outs in our homes. Nothing says Peace on Earth like watching my 115 pound Aunt down 8 shots of Jagermeister and 4 Schmidt beers before vomiting on the front staircase of my parent’s St. Paul duplex. These were such special times, so special that they were the only time of year that my parents allowed criminals and crazy people into our home because…They were family.
A few of my favorite holiday memories:
**Names have been changed to protect the guilty**
Mom: “I’m not going to ask you guys again. Now get in there and clean that pigsty you call a bedroom before our company gets here.”
Dad: “Hurry up and hide anything you don’t want stolen. Uncle Brian’s on his way over.”
My brother and I reluctantly cleaned our room. I thought I had hid everything that was important to me, but I was wrong. That Christmas Eve, my Uncle Brian stole my brand new Barbie Ferrari. I was 9 years old and after much begging, my parents had allowed both of us to open one gift before the guests arrived. I was ecstatic that it was the bright red Barbie Ferrari I had been asking for all year, but less than two hours after tearing off the snowman wrapping paper, it was gone.
In the spirit of the holiday, I forgave my uncle’s kleptomania. Months later there were rumors that he had sold it for enough money to score some really good crank (a methamphetamine that my D.A.R.E. Officer had referred to as, “The working man’s drug”). After hearing this, I was hopeful that his “score” might have helped propel him back into the workforce after a fifteen year hiatus. “Maybe this will be the year Uncle Brian pays his child support,” I thought to myself as I gazed upon my mother’s Nativity set. It didn’t, but in that moment, I realized how thankful I was that he had not stolen the Pink (Barbie) 57 Chevy Convertible, which was still hidden in my parent’s closet waiting to be wrapped and delivered to me by “Santa” in the morning. Peace be with you, Brian.
One magical Christmas Eve back in 1988, My Uncle Dave brought with him his new girlfriend. Each Christmas Dave had a new girlfriend. And each “lady” was trashier than the previous. However, this particular Christmas, his girlfriend was different. She was kind, attractive and employed. Unlike the usual suspects, she didn’t once fall out of her chair in a drunken stupor or yell out the words, “You don’t know me!” and then throw the holiday cheese wheel across the room. Instead, she was a real class act. Later that night, I asked her to read me a bedtime story. She accepted with a smile and kneeled down next to my canopy bed. I laid back, closed my eyes and listened as she read, “Where the Wild Things Are.” I quickly began to drift off and into dreamland. And just before I fell into a deep sleep, I thought, “Wow, I can’t believe one of my uncle’s girlfriends can read.” Unfortunately, that was the last time we ever saw her.