So, Clay has announced his latest contest! And we should all write down our favorite holiday memory in twenty sentences or less and submit them. The winners will then be invited to present their special and unique memories on stage during his upcoming Holiday tour.
Is this for real?
And more importantly… do I even have one?
Growing up... Christmas in my home was always magical. My mother spared no expense or effort in providing my sisters and I the total experience of the season. Christmas mornings were like Disneyland, only better. Presents would cover every square inch of carpet and furniture; the spread of candy and goodies on the dining room table would go on for miles. And of course there was always music. Thinking back, I’m not sure AT ALL how she afforded it. She was just (for all intents and purposes) a single mother living on a modest teacher’s salary in the 60’s. I can only imagine how much she, herself, must have had to budget and sacrifice during the year to be able to make that happen for us each and every Christmas and sometimes the memory of it all humbles me greatly.
And here I am only sacrificing sentences…
Because as wonderful as those memories are to me, would they be worthy of a public presentation or even at all interesting to anyone else? Probably not.
But hang in there… Because the year after I moved away from home, mom met ‘dad’… and two peas in a pod were never better paired. I don’t know if it had something to do with them both having grown up during the depression or them both having to raise up children pretty much on their own or what. Or if it was just that once having finally met their soul mate all of those latent, frugal tendencies just kicked into overdrive. Who knows? But you could definitely call them penny pinchers nowdays… or even tightwads if you must. Though that's not neccessarily a bad thing... since they've also been around the world a couple of times...
Still, neither of them would ever hesitate to help out anyone in need, or volunteer their time or money to their church or to charities at all. But at the end of the month, when the money's gone from the “envelope” it’s gone. Even though, more often than not, it’s gone on others long before it’s gone on themselves. I don't get it at all, but somehow they've cracked the code.
Now be patient, because this is where the story starts to get good... and maybe starts to explain itself.
In the early 1980's they somehow decided to start saving trees. Now, I'm not talking about recycling paper or printing double sided, or anything like that... I'm talking about saving whole freakin' conifers!
Mind you... this all happened several years after I'd left home...(thankfully).
I think the idea must have first sprung up a few days after Christmas in maybe 1982 or something... when they went to toss that Christmas tree out onto the curb and then said to themself... "Self… (because they are ONE you know)... this tree still looks just perfectly fine! Do you think we could maybe save it and try to use it again next year?”
And so the tradition began!!! It was wrapped up in plastic and hoisted upside down among the rafters of the garage that I grew up in (except that I actually lived in the house when I use to live there.)
I think it must have been the next year or the year after that when I came home for Christmas and they were so very proud of their tree! And you'd have to admit it still looked beautiful! I mean, you couldn't even tell! It was pretty darn perky from being hung upside down for all that time and all! And all they'd had to do, really, was to spray a little refresher flocking on it each year and add some tinsel and ornaments... and voila!
Except that, unbelievably, this went on for the next couple of years as well... until, it must have been around Christmas of 1987, I think, when they finally decided to go visit a branch of our family who lived out of state.
(I can just imagine the conversation...)
"What do you think? Will it last till next year?"
"Well, it might... but again, maybe not."
"And it could also prove to be a fire hazard as well don’t you think?.. while we're away?"
"Very true. Maybe we should… dispose of it?."
...And so they did. And so here’s this Christmas tree just ‘disposed of’ on the curb outside their house... the week before Christmas!!! I mean, can you just imagine it? Seriously… just stop and close your eyes and think about it. Because I can hardly even write this story without tears of laughter streaming down my face!.. let alone imagining verbalizing it in front of a cast of thousands.
But... it gets even better!
Because just a couple of days after that, while driving home from their Christmas visit and heading up the road to the house, that they happened to spot this perfectly good, yet discarded, Christmas tree just laying there so 'disposed of' alongside somebody's curb. And so they did what any frugal and environmentally responsible individuals would do... they just got out of the car, walked right up to the door… and knocked.
And if you only knew how really classy and normal they are... normally... this story would just about kill you even more!
So there you have it, my favorite Christmas memory! And you know what? I feel like I just won the lottery or something. Because one of the rules of the contest was that it had to be limited to twenty sentences and this was way longer than that! Even without the... ellipses! So I guess there is just no way I'll be able to submit it and hope for any opportunity at all to be up on stage sharing this very "special" story with thousands upon thousands of... riveted fans...
However... on the off chance that he decides to add O Christmas Tree to the set list, I guess I could maybe still be in trouble…
...being how he likes to bend his own rules from time to time and all.
My parents are treating (all 20 something of us!) to a cruise for the new year. It’s been in the planning stages for many years and I can only imagine the budgeting that’s been going on there! I guess some things never change. But I know how important it is to them to have us all together in the same place… for perhaps one last time perhaps. They’ve even reserved a meeting room for one of the evenings where we can all get together to reminisce and share all of our old childhood stories and memories.
And so now, thanks to this, at least I have ONE pretty good one to share so far…
That's not exactly my mom, but I still had to do a double-take...
Clay Aiken, Christmas Tour, Holiday Memories
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Wednesday, October 03, 2007
A Christmas Memory... in October.
AKA... "No More Trees Torn Apart"...