Remembering Christmas past is like remembering childbirth: Because of the intensity of the thing, a kind of amnesia sets in.

Remembering Christmas past is like remembering childbirth: Because of the intensity of the thing, a kind of amnesia sets in.


If you asked me yesterday what happened on any given Christmas, I’d have said that the tree fell over as usual but otherwise it was uneventful.


I just looked up the day in an old diary. How quickly we forget!


That year, I seem to have come up with the idea that I needed to send Christmas cards to 192 people, and thus spent every spare moment over a five-day period entering their names and addresses on my laptop so as to generate labels.


One day I was up early working on these. At last I pressed “print” and hurried away to take my shower.


When I came back, the cat was delicately shredding the sheets of labels one by one as they emerged from the printer, whilst sitting directly ON the little keyboard of the laptop, causing the thing to beep frantically, then lose its mind altogether. 


This meant that when you struck the “A” key it said “#!”m while the “B” brought up “@!”


It kept doing this, hiccupping and speaking in gibberish for the next 13 hours.


Then I spent five MORE days of spare moments working up a newsy collage of holiday greeting.


When it turned out to be too big for a conventional envelope, I went and bought bigger ones, on which the printed labels now looked puny and impersonal.


So I took ANOTHER five days and made everyone who came into the house help me decorate each one with a bright holiday drawing.


And then there were the Disappointing Presents:


Our then-sixth-grader wanted Army guys, but when the bucket of them was opened on Christmas morning, I turned out to have bought the wrong kind: guys that couldn’t even lie down in the mud and inch along on their tummies. 


The 10th-grader-at-the-time hoped for leather jacket and instead I seem to have somehow bought her a big Cheese Puff of a thing stuffed with down.


The much-wished-for video game was sold out until March, it turned out you couldn’t BUILD Erector Set Number 6 unless you already OWNED Erector Sets Number 1 through 5 and the two presents I thought were sure-fire which I had bought and wrapped super-early I couldn’t even find until three days after the 25th.


On climbing into bed that night, our boy’s eyes shone with sorrow.


“It’s my fault,” he said, so as not to sadden his mom. “I didn’t get in the Christmas spirit. ... I should’ve thought more about what I was giving, instead of what I was getting.”


So this year we’re all trying to do that. Still, you sure can get turned around.


(It turns out I was the one who wanted a big downy Cheese Puff of a jacket.)


I’d like a new wallet, too, since mine looks like it was mauled by a pit bull and is also covered with ink stains, as literally everything I own, even my very underwear.


Also a nice book.


And maybe some undies not yet written on.


But wait! I’m doing it again! You forget it year to year, but this season just makes you crazy!


Write to Terry at terrymarotta@verizon.net or c/o Ravenscroft Press, PO Box 270 Winchester MA 01890. Check out her blog Exit Only for a fresh story every day at www.terrymarotta.wordpress.com.