A Real-Life Christmas Story from Katrina
My family had great Christmases up until I was six years old. We’d have Christmas trees coated in fake snow, and my mother would paint Christmas scenes on all the windows. It was my favorite time of year. On Christmas morning we’d open our presents, and then my brothers and I would go outside to compare toys with the neighbors.
After my sixth birthday, my parents became pretty serious drug addicts, and we barely had money for food, let alone Christmas presents. On the Christmas of my seventh year, I remember waking to no Christmas presents, and I thought that maybe Santa didn’t bring me something because I misbehaved. The next year, I made a concerted effort to be the perfect daughter. I took baths when I was told. I did all my homework. I ate my collard greens. I didn’t stay up late watching the Million Dollar Movie.
When Christmas came, I was certain that Santa would remember to leave me a present. Unfortunately, I woke up to nothing. I sat in front of our cold bare fireplace and cried. My mother came out and asked me what was wrong. “Santa didn’t leave me anything!” I sobbed. “I was good all year! I made sure! What did I do wrong?” My mother hugged me and said, “You are a good daughter. The best. The reason you have nothing is because there is no Santa, and I didn’t have the money to buy you presents.”
I spent the rest of Christmas day and many Christmas days following looking out the window watching all the neighbor kids play with their new presents. I was too ashamed to go outside with nothing.
When I was ten years old, my parents had my little brother, Victor. Victor was a very loud, exuberant, and happy child. We were in the poorest of circumstances, and he didn’t seem to care. Victor was just happy to have family. When Victor was four almost five, he became consciously aware of Santa Claus and Christmas, and he knew exactly what he wanted from Santa, a Transformer. A Transformer was a toy that could be a car one minute and with a few adjustments turn into a super hero robot. Victor had spoke of nothing for weeks except of how he wanted this Transformer.
Then Christmas Eve came, and Victor was just as excited as I remember being at his age. He was jumping around and yakking at everyone about how he was going to have a Transformer when he woke the next day. He was starting to get on my father’s nerves. My father at the time was trying to relax by watching t.v. and smoking a joint. He pretty much snapped at Victor and told him Santa wasn’t going to bring him anything if he didn’t go to bed. Victor then took off to bed, and I watched my dad continue his high with a line of heroin. It was obvious to me that my father had no plan of getting Victor his Transformer, and my mother didn’t seem to have any plan either.
I thought to myself, “There’s no way I’m going to let him wake up to nothing.” I searched the house for whatever change I could find, but it didn’t amount to much. Then the idea came to me that I could make a Transformer out of things in the house. I found several blocks of wood, springs, and screws. I also found an old brown throw rug in the garage. With the wood and springs, I fashioned together a wooden doll that folded into a makeshift car, and then opened up into a robot. I then made a teddy bear out of the old throw rug. Considering I had neither sewing nor crafts skills, I have to say that they were the ugliest objects ever. I do have to say the wooden robot had a cute sort of ugly about it because the springs made its body parts bob every which way.
I then went out into our back yard where we had a giant pine tree. I cut branches off the tree and fashioned a goofy little Christmas tree, and I decorated with buttons and bobbles I found around the house. I also strung popcorn and hung that on the tree. When Victor woke up, he saw the tree and the presents. I was so nervous that he wouldn’t like the Transformer, but when he opened it up, he a look on his face was as if he were looking at the real thing. He loved it. He carried that wooden robot and ugly teddy bear everywhere he went. He called the robot his Transformer.
There are many things I could choose to remember about my past Christmases because there have been more bad than good, but that Christmas with Victor is the one Christmas that I feel was the only true Christmas of my life. That Christmas with Victor taught me that it didn’t matter what you gave a person for Christmas just as long as you give with your whole heart. That was the only Christmas I ever truly did.