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December 20, 2006 / Maleesha Kovnesky


Often, it seems like this time of year comes in two varieties: Awesome, shiny and sparkly; or, crappy, stinky, and stressful.  Of course, life is what you make of it, and if we all step back and stop putting holiday pressure on ourselves and just remember the point of the season, maybe it would just smooth over.  But that isn’t entirely true, is it?  Just because it’s Christmas doesn’t mean the world stops and everything is grand.  People still die.  Wars are still fought.  I can’t help but think every day about a long-lost friend from high school – they recently lost their 14-month old son due to pneumonia, just before Thanksgiving.  I can’t even imagine how horrible that must be.  Yet, these kind of things happen to people every day, no matter what the season is.

Though you wouldn’t know it from this post so far, I try to enjoy the holidays and make them shiny.  I decorate cookies, send out cards, and watch Christmas specials on TV.  I like to do things like go look at lighted houses and eat candy canes.  This year, I really want to drive up to Montana and see my parents for a change.  The problem is, it’s Montana and that means the highways are probably going to look at lot like the polar ice caps.  Yet, I am determined to try.  I think it only happened once, but I remember going to see my grandparents in Wisconsin for Christmas (when I was really little – 4 I think) and it was a really happy thing.  I remember my grandpa left the room, then several minutes later Santa showed up!  I was looking around for my grandpa, saying “Where’s grandpa!  Where’s grandpa?”  I really wanted him to meet Santa.  Unfortunately, Santa seemed to be in some kind of hurry — he passed out gifts and left.  Then several minutes after he left, my grandpa reappeared.  “You missed him!” I said.  I was really disappointed my grandpa wasn’t there to meet Santa.  It was a few years before I figured it out.

Then I remember one Christmas that was probably the best in my memory.  I got a silver “ghetto blaster” stereo/boombox that had a–gasp!–tape player!  Finally, I would be able to record my favorite songs from Y95 FM and replay them over and over!  Songs like Europe’s Final Countdown and Lipps, Ic. Funkytown.  I was in heaven.   That was the same year my dad assembled a magnificent HO scale trainset for my brother.  It took up half the kitchen and had little model trees and fences.  The lights worked.  And if you put a tiny drop of oil in the train’s smokestack, a little puff of smoke would wisp out as the train went around the tracks.  I have no idea what happened to it.  I just remember how great and fun it all was, at 4:30 in the morning when my brother and I woke my parents up to start Christmas. 

When I was 15, there was a not-so-good Christmas.  It was Christmas Eve, and for whatever reason, our volleyball team had practice that morning.  I had just made the high-school team and we were told it was absolutely mandatory.  As my mom was driving me to school, we saw our cat (who didn’t come running that morning, like he usually did, when we called) lying on the side of the road.  Hit by a car.  And as we picked him up, he was still warm.  I can’t help but think that he came running when he heard us call him, and got hit.  We had only lived in this house for a month.  Then I had to go straight to the mandatory volleyball practice, with my tears and puffy eyes, in front of some of the snotty girls…oh, that was a joy, let me tell you.  The cat incident really put a downer on things that year.  “Spooky Tiger” was no ordinary cat, either.  This cat would ride on my shoulder when I rode my bike around town, or even when I walked around the house.  It was devastating.  Nobody cared much about presents, or Christmas dinner, or anything.  We all just moped around for weeks. 

Later, Christmases started getting interesting.  My friend Melissa and I had a genuine “Waffle House Christmas” in 1998 (I think) in Jacksonville, NC.  We were stationed at nearby Camp Lejeune and seemed to be the only ones not getting to go home that Christmas.  So we looked for a place to have dinner, and the only place open was Waffle House.  The cooks and the waitstaff were all completely drunk, and the jukebox was going, and the waffles were sub-par.  Yet it was one of the most fun Christmases I have had as an adult.

Only a few more days until we find out which version of Christmas this year will turn out to have.  I am hoping for the best!


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