Christmas morning. Not even 6am, and the kids were jumping on my bed, screaming–not in a cute, Norman Rockwell kind of way, but in the kind of way that makes you quite sure your nosy neighbor is three seconds from calling CPS on you again. I don’t know why they were so excited. They didn’t have anybody but me to get them presents, and I’d already told them the night before I’d worked seventy hours this week, and not even the fat elf himself standing in my fireplace could convince me to make the trek to Walmart that stinking late. They never believed anything I said, so I guess their peals of laughter shouldn’t have surprised me. Or grated on my second-to-last nerve like it did.
Now, don’t get me wrong. I’m not Mrs. Scrooge, either. I do my part to spruce up the place when Thanksgiving rolls around. I toss around a couple of pine-scented candles, a reindeer doorknob hanger thing, and if I can get more than two minutes’ peace in a row, I might even string some dollar store white lights across the carport roof. But presents? No. Not this year. We’d have to manage without. Seventy hours meant overtime, but all overtime meant was one less bill collector calling (not that I’d know this, as the phone was the first thing to get cut off).
So here we were, oh-dark-thirty Christmas Day, kids toppling each other over in their excitement, last year’s half-broken fake tree leaning pitifully in the corner, and the floor beneath it barren as my expectations.
I debated screaming at them. Screaming always feels good, because at least it loosens up that knot inside for a minute or two. Doesn’t do much good with the kids, though; they scream back, and then I scream some more, and before you know it we’re all in tears and I’m apologizing and hating my life and wishing my neighbor WOULD go ahead and call CPS and save my children from me.
But it was Christmas, so I thought I’d try stuffing the seventy hours and the busted marriage and the lame tree and the cold, phoneless house up the chimney where it all belonged, and then I’d try not screaming.
Not screaming felt pretty good, actually, so after that I tried grinning. Just a little; don’t want to do too much, or the kids will think they’ve got free rein over your bed and wakeup time every day.
I liked grinning. So next I did a little jig myself, a very small one. Needed to stand up for that, though, I discovered, to do it properly.
Just standing there on the bed doing my little jig felt a bit awkward, what with the kids bouncing around me like banshees. It made things a little easier, balance-wise, if I added a bit of oomph to the jig.
And then suddenly I was dancing.
Yeah. Dancing, and after a couple minutes, I wasn’t even pretending anymore. I was dancing. Dancing like a mamajama. Dancing with all my might, my kids’ screeching elvish laughter not quite drowning out mine, their eyes glowing brighter than our chili pepper lights as I grabbed their hands. Who knew it was possible? My life didn’t make sense, at least not yet. But golly. For one minute, a dancing jolly happy, snot-nosed, pointy-eared Christmas, right here, all mine.
Norman Rockwell, eat your heart out.
Rebekah Postupak grew up in Asia, surrounded by mountains and rice paddies. Poetically, she now lives in Virginia, surrounded by mountains and cow patties. She works. She runs. She writes. She twirls wildly around the house for hours with her beautiful, well-behaved, erudite children. Oh—she also dreams.