The grownups seemed pretty happy about “Christmas” but Santa or Jesus were not characters we worshiped or fussed about too much. I think my mom told me that Santa was a “spirit”. If the grownups had a religion, it seems to me to be; “Have good vibes”, “don’t be into the juice” and smoke pot. Constantly, over and over and over on an every day basis, my mom said to me; “Treat everyone how you want to be treated”. I think that was our religion. She told me about karma and how everything you do comes back to you. And God was in everything, even rocks.
I saw the Christmas pictures my mom had from before when she lived out there in fairy tale real world with a plump, dazzling tree covered in amazing ornaments with piles of pretty boxed presents wrapped in beautiful paper. It looked so incredible I could barely believe it. I pestered her a lot, interrogating her about these Christmases and why I missed out on them and all those presents. I wondered what was in those beautiful, wrapped, perfect looking square boxes. I wondered why and how my sister had gotten so many presents. I was enamored with this one picture of her sitting under the unbelievable tree in a pretty nightgown in the middle of an overabundance of presents. How did they get that many presents? How was that possible!? Deborah was annoyed with me. Even as a little kid, I could tell she thought I was being shallow or materialistic or something. She’d roll her eyes and sigh heavily and snap at me sounding disgusted and annoyed saying “The presents weren’t all for us. They were for other people too”. So? We have like 50 people in our house and I’d never seen anything near close to presents on that scale and in that kind of pretty wrapping and a tree like that! I wanted to be there so bad.
Why wasn’t I there when Christmas was like THAT?
We had a tree in the house, a pine tree the grownups cut down from somewhere, but it wasn’t like the tree in the picture. It was bare and scraggly looking compared to that fat, juicy tree. And we didn’t have amazing ornaments. Our house was Dogwood Blossom, and hence the name, we had Dogwood trees which they picked the little, hard red berries from (that we weren’t suppose to eat – I tried, they tasted awful) to make berry chains for the tree. That was our tree decoration. I helped with a needle and thread but it was way too difficult. I tried and tried because I really wanted us to have a pretty tree and it was so exciting that they were letting me use a needle but the berries were so tiny and hard, it was almost unbearable. Endless, tedious, difficult labor of stringing hard, tiny berries would only yield the most pathetic, insignificant amount on the string. How the heck would I ever get enough on there to complete the whole string? Not only is it not worth all this work, it’s impossible! The popcorn was easier to pierce with the needle but how could I put popcorn on a string when I’d rather eat it because we barely ever get to eat something that good?
My only main memory of Christmas from the 4 years of living in a bus at Dogwood Blossom (from ages 3 to 7ish) was the year I went Christmas caroling. I must have been around 4-5ish. The whole house was in a buzz about going “Christmas caroling”. I found out that meant going to other houses and singing songs and they might give us treats! Oh my god, I had to go. My mom wasn’t going though, she was staying home with Sky. This was going to be scary without her, but, I still had to go. I’d be okay with the people from my house. It was mostly bigger people going. It got dark and my mom got me all dressed to go, even the horrible sock wrinkles couldn’t stop me. Our group of people walked across 1st Road to our neighbors house. I think the grownups had papers with the words to the songs. I think someone even gave me one. But I couldn’t read yet. And, crap! What am I even doing here? I don’t know these songs! I’ve never even heard them before! My favorite song is Beautiful Dreamer about mermaids. But I really wanted to sing with everyone. I can’t read and I don’t know the songs, how embarrassing, what am I going to do? What if people notice that I’m not singing and don’t know the words? I stood there amidst the legs, desperate to sing with everyone. Maybe I even prayed.
Then a Christmas miracle happened. A miracle I could hardly believe. This group of singing was like a wave – that I was a part of. All I had to do was open my mouth and let the words come out. I had no idea how it was happening but, somehow, it was happening and it was the most amazing thing I’d ever experienced in my life. I didn’t even know the words but they were just coming out of my mouth right along with everyone! I was riding the song wave, letting it sweep me up and carry me along. I couldn’t believe it! I was elated to no end in pure awe of this fantastic, mysterious dynamism that enabled me to sing songs I didn’t even know. Somehow, I had transcended not knowing. It was the most wonderful, thrilling phenomenon ever. I could barely contain myself and had to control my legs from jumping up and down in utter delight from feeling some kind of benevolent, all knowing power flow through me. I let the higher force take over my mouth and sang song after song that I didn’t know. I didn’t even have a clue what word was coming next, but they came out correctly every time! Oh my god, this is so much fun and way too amazing. I couldn’t wait to tell my mom.
After the people from the big house stood there smiling and listening to us sing, they did give us treats! I was afraid there might not be enough and they might not see me down here in the legs but there was and they did! They gave me a candy cane!!! Holy shit! This is the best night in my entire life!
If I had ever gotten a candy cane before, when I visited my Grandparents or something, I can’t remember. I don’t know if I’ve ever even had any unattainable, almost mythological candy that I only see in story books, at all before. How does this house have candy!? What kind of imperial people live here that they have candy to give us? My mom passionately despises sugar, she never lets us eat it, not even a sprinkle on disgusting oatmeal, she seems to think that candy and anything with sugar is vile – but this is a special night and this is my candy cane that I earned. I can’t believe how lucky I am. The candy cane is a miracle all by itself but the magic of song lyrics that I didn’t even know just flowing out of my mouth!? Wow! What was that!?
They might have kept going down the street to the other houses but I had to tell my mom about this. I run back to my bus holding tight to my candy cane, bursting with excitement to tell my mom all about what just happened. I try to explain but I don’t think she gets just how amazing what I’m telling her is. I tell lots of people over the years about it but no one really gets it or they don’t believe me. But I know it happened. It was just incredible, an ambrosial rapture of melodic channeling , it even out-shined obtaining the wondrous, story book candy cane by an unmeasurable long shot.
That was so mind blowing. I am so happy.
I’m sure I slept snug and cozy in my little bus bed with a gigantic smile all night that night which I then tucked into my heart to keep for forever to never forget the real, unexplainable magic I experienced that one miraculous Christmas.