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A Sunshine Family Christmas

December madness is upon us – holiday hangovers, crowded malls, parking spot wars, canned cranberries.  What’s a girl to do?  Embrace it!  On the flip side of all the ‘bad’ holiday stuff, there’s a bounty of beauty in the form of snowflakes, sweaters, toasty fires and time shared with family and friends. Lord knows I’ve had my share of ‘bah humbug’ holiday moments where I was forced to schlep around to whatever family member was hosting and stake my claim at the kiddy table.  Over the years, I’ve learned to perfect my “Wow, isn’t that awesome” smile when unwrapping polyester teddies and sweaters with appliques and fringe from sister-in-laws who claimed to know me and/or be my friend.  I’ve probably dragged a half ton of dinner rolls (that’s what they always assign to the single people) across state lines by this point in my life, and have purchased and given more scarves and puzzles to my brothers’ girlfriends du jour and their respective kids whom I’ll likely never cross paths with again all in the name of the holiday spirit.  I convinced myself that all my sad, lonely holidays as a thirty-something were payment for all the great holidays I had as a kid.  My family wasn’t rich by any stretch of the imagination – heck, we probably just skimmed the brink of middle class – but my parents always managed to make us feel like we were blessed, especially at Christmas.  My brother Marty and I would fight over the Sears Roebuck catalog the moment it came in the mail.  By the time early December rolled around, those pages in the toy section would be so dog-earred and wrinkled from Kool-Aid spills, it’s a wonder Santa could even read them. I imagine an entire landfill somewhere in Kansas with nothing but Sears Roebucks catalogs.  We would start our lists in our little spiral bound notebooks the second the mailman dropped it off, and we would erase, cross off and add to the list based on our daily whims which changed with every after school commercial.  Those people at Mattel were geniuses!  Baby Daisy is out – Baby Alive is in!  At an early age, I was very detailed oriented – my list had columns with page #s, style/order #s, and pricing info – I think I even tallied the total cost for Santa. If only every kid could have been so efficient! And so it went until Christmas morning shined upon us – which of course, was after Christmas Eve where my dad, mom, aunts, uncles and neighbors gathered around the kitchen table to smoke and drink themselves into oblivion until one of them announced it was time to put the bikes together.  Ever wonder how many fatalities or injuries were due to some parents not tightening their kid’s handlebars correctly because they were hungover?  My all-time personal Christmas favorite (maybe I peaked out early) was the year I scored the Sunshine Family (Mattel’s hippie granola’ish version of Barbie dolls), their general store, and the Snoopy Drive-In Theater. That was a gangbuster year, never to be repeated.

My point being that while I’ve had my share of “It’s a Wonderful Life” holiday moments (doesn’t get much better than the Sunshine Family and their general store) I’ve also experienced my share of Grinch-like moments.  Holidays can be difficult when you’re feeling alone and/or lonely.  For me, 2006, 2007 and 2008 are years I wouldn’t mind wiping from my memory.  Christmas 2006 is the first one I spent without my mom – that was tough.  I met my dad’s companion for the first time at the Christmas dinner table at 2007. She’s lovely, but it was hard to see someone else sitting in my mom’s chair. For whatever reason, I was feeling particularly depressed and alone as holiday season 2008 kicked off. I basically partied and drank my way through that one. Not proud of that fact, but it’s the truth.  The good news is that my social smoking ceased on December 26 of that year.  I’m sharing this because not every year can be a Winter Wonderland – for anyone – not even Kris Kringle. There may be a year or two where you just have to white knuckle your way through the fruit cake and festivities and make your way to the other side – the New Year of hope, happiness and prosperity that awaits you. Life is about cycles and change. Nothing stays bad forever, and that’s the thought that you must cling to as you unwrap that Duck Dynasty chia pet.  The only constant is change, and the only hope maybe an even exchange.

I’m starting holiday season 2013 on a high note with XXL.  Last Christmas (our first together) was one of my best ever, and we are creating our own traditions.  While I know he can never deliver a Christmas like the year of the Snoopy Drive-In or The Sunshine Family, I know he’ll do his best and that’s really all that matters.

Merry Christmas and Best Wishes for a memorable holiday season filled with fun and laughter.  Namaste.

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~ Written by: Lori Welch

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