The Year Jane Ruined Christmas

We’ve all seen the Grinch Who Stole Christmas and A Christmas Carol, but I know a real family who will never have Christmas again.  It all started with a crying 6 year old, and not to point fingers, but she singlehandedly ruined Christmas.  Let’s call her Jane.

Everything started innocently enough with an old fashioned afternoon of White Elephant.  If anyone had known the tragedy that would befall them, they would have tossed all the gifts in the trash, unopened.  But they didn’t know…they couldn’t know…that hidden deep in one of those packages was a Target Gift Card.

As it turns out, Jane had just been perusing a Target circular and a certain toy caught her eye.  In her mind she decided that everything good in the world came from Target.  And to this day, no one disputes that point.

What happened next is the stuff of myths, rumors, innuendos, and tall tales.  Perhaps we will never know what happened that fateful day, but if you talk to the old men playing chess in the park, the tale will unravel like this; Jane’s mommy got the Target card.  Jane was stoked!!  That toy is mine!

But an aunt or a cousin or a family friend (does it really matter?) soon swooped in and took the Target card and left Jane’s mommy a lump of coal in exchange.  Yes, technically that’s the point of a White Elephant, but…Jane was acting like a child.  The way she cried and carried on you would think someone had stolen one of her toys!  Perhaps the exact toy that Target card was meant to buy.

Everything kind of went downhill from there, and everyone was mad and sad and grumpy and annoyed.  Jane pulled herself together but it was too late to save Christmas…just too late.  The following year, the family thought they could go on with Christmas, but some people were still grumpy and acting like children (everyone except Jane that is, because she’d forgotten all about it).

Back in the days before email, carrier pigeons brought notes from family member to family member, each bemoaning the wretched Christmas of the prior year.  Some family members thought Christmas should be called off altogether.  Others thought that they should have another White Elephant, but leave Jane out of the mix.  And there was some sentiment that everyone could choose gifts but leave them wrapped, so no one would know who ended up with which crappy gift.  The only thing they all agreed upon was that the whole stinkin’ mess was Jane’s fault.

Luckily, one of the three Wise Guys came along and sent pigeons off with notes to everyone.  There will be Christmas this year!  There must be Christmas this year!  And all the little children in the village shouted with glee!  Their memory from the prior Christmas was of the taste of hot chocolate burning their tongues, the warmth of the fire on their backs, the way the sprinkles on the sugar cookies sparkled like diamonds.  The Wise Guy reminded everyone how the Jewish children played with the Christian children with nary a word about who allegedly killed Christ.

The Target Card Incident had long faded from the children’s memories.  And the grumpy adults watched the children make Christmas whole again.

I would love to say that the grumpy adults once again warmly embraced their Family Christmas, but that remains to be seen.  I pray that Jane can pull herself together this year and not act like a 6 year old.  Because she’s 7 now and enough is enough.

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