Christmas 1980-something

Evidently I was a spoiled kid. As spoiled as the youngest child of four can get. As spoiled as a child of a single mom who worked cleaning hotel rooms can be. I was that sort of spoiled. Spoiled in the sense that while my Christmas list was usually very specific and exhaustive, every year I got at least one item on it because my mother made sure I had something to look forward to, something to believe in when sometimes our life wasn’t a life that offered hope or belief in things getting better. I remember many of those one-off gifts. Those miraculous ones that showed up, I thought, from Santa in the true spirit of the holiday. One year I got a Popples, which were all the rage in the 1980s. One year a Strawberry Shortcake doll. One year a Barbie (a real Barbie not one of the knock-off dolls) so cool, so rad, that she had her own leg warmers and boom box.

In the second grade I wanted only one thing: A Baby Shivers Doll. Do you remember those bad-bitches? They were dolls that actually, for real, shivered as if they were cold. It was the same year that the Baby Alive Dolls first came out and I had a ton of friends asking for them, but I didn’t want to press my luck, so instead I asked for the older doll that only shivered. Besides, I wasn’t so sure about a doll that wet herself. I mean, was I ready for some real shit like that? I figured I’d let my best friend Rachel get that for Christmas and I’d play with it when I wanted, but didn’t have to take the responsibility for changing the diapers and what not. This is some real shit, it’s not made up, check it out:

Listen to me when I say this, these were some badass babes, though to be fair it set me up for failure when I had an actual baby and asked too many times what to do if he started to shiver. Turns out babies shivering aren’t like a real big problem. Who knew?!

Anyway, I remember writing Santa to ask for a Baby Shivers of my own. I may have even named dropped Rachel or her grandma, who was bound to buy her any type of doll she wanted. And on Christmas morning when I woke up and ran into the living room I was 100% expecting a Baby Shivers from Santa and for the first time ever I was disappointed. There was no Baby Shivers under the tree. Just some other random toys I don’t remember and some fruit and candy. I was upset, but tried not to let my disappointment show. That is certainly not something you did in my house. You sucked it up. Plus, I figured Santa had a legit reason not to bring me that hypothermic baby. Maybe all the electronics in her back forced her to short circuit and catch little girls’ hair on fire? I could only hope that was the reason because I was Peppermint Petty even at a young age.

So there I was playing with my toys I didn’t much care for after the wrapping paper tornado when my mom said, “Ope Missy, I found one more gift.” Yeah, she pulled the old “A Christmas Story” deal on me and handed me a wrapped box. I could tell right away she had wrapped it because she is not a good wrapper. The edges were a little frayed and the tape didn’t hit all the spots right, and there was a different type of wrapping on the edges. “Who’s it from,” I asked, hoping beyond hope it was from Santa.

“It’s from me,” my mom said. I smiled, but knew I was screwed. I slowly started to unwrap the paper, then my fingers went quicker and quicker until finally I had paper all over myself and was looking at the Baby Shivers box. I was stunned into inaction. My mom was beaming and I could not find words so I just ran over and hugged her. I couldn’t believe my luck and my mom’s obvious good fortune.

I still don’t know how my mom go the doll, or why she chose that year to get the credit for that toy, but it didn’t much matter. I just figured her and Santa hashed it all out and came to this conclusion and in the years to come I was always able to suspend my disbelief like that, around Christmas, but also at other times of the year too. Let’s call it self-preservation. Poor kids know what I mean.

Over the next year I walked around coddling my Baby Shivers, who I probably named but couldn’t tell you at all what it was. She was probably a girl and she probably had “eyes like her Mommy.” Rachel did get a Baby Alive that year and as I suspected that doll was a headache. You had to feed her to get her to poop and she ate this gross pasty stuff and you always had to buy more things for her to keep her in tiptop shape and I’m pretty sure it was short-lived. So was Baby Shivers, but for a little while I had the doll I had waited my whole life for and my mom had her shining moment.

I hope you all have a shining moment this holiday, and get something you’ve been asking for too.

M.

Church

I woke up thinking about church today. Probably because it’s Sunday, certainly not because I’m a churchgoer. I’ve never been a churchgoers. I was never forced to go to church as a child, never had religion thrust upon me. My mom used to say she’d let her kids decide what to believe, though she herself was a Christian, it didn’t much matter back then what we believed in, as long as we were good, kind people. And we are. All of us. But we maybe didn’t go the path she expected.

I’m married to an atheist. The good kind. He doesn’t need a higher power to keep him in line. He likes to say that he does all the raping and pillaging he wants to, which is zero. He isn’t “acting” good in this life for fear of what the next will hold. He’s a good person because he’s a good person.

I’m in a “complicated” relationship with Jesus. God, well, I’m not a fan. But Jesus seemed cool, the man Jesus anyway. But even on my best days I can’t wrap my mind around church. Around organized religion. Too much hate, judgement, and evil takes places in many of those four walls, and I’ll pass. I’ll get my “church” the old-fashioned way, walking with Jesus alone, communing with nature, talking to y’all on this here blog.

My son has been raised with grandparents who don’t shy away from talking religion with him. My mom taught him to pray (she’s become very religious in her senior years and I’m sure regrets that whole “let my kids figure it out themselves” deal she did). So since Jackson was small she’s talked about her love for God to him, which is why I was pretty surprised the other day when he said, “Santa Claus is real, you know. He’s a real person, not like God who is just a belief.” Ouch. That’s some shit he made up in his own mind. Seems Santa, a jolly man who has magic and cares about all the children in the world, is easier to believe in than a God who makes people spew hate and judgment towards others. Of course my happy, kind, empathetic son believes in a man who has flying reindeer and brings smiles to children. And of course my smart, logical, realistic son can’t get behind a belief that spreads hate and has caused war and killing and disease. A belief people blindly stand behind. A belief that neglects some children based on how they came into this world, where they live, or how they practice their own faith. Of course.

So yeah, we aren’t headed to church today. But we are headed down to the lake for some fun, food, and fellowship. Is there anything else you can ask of a Sunday?

M.

Duke’s Christmas List

If you’re new here, Duke is my standard poodle. His full name is Sir Duke Barkington of Charlotte (even though he was born in South Carolina, shh, he doesn’t like to talk about that). We named him Duke for three very different reasons. Jerimiah chose Duke because he’d always wanted a dog named Duke. He said it was a “cool dog name.” Granted, he always envisioned naming a kick-ass dog like a German Shepherd that name, but instead he got a poodle. Jackson picked the name Duke because of the big, brown, fluffy dog in the movie “The Secret Life of Pets” (our Duke is also big, brown, and fluffy), and I chose Duke because of John Wayne, obviously. Sir, because he’s French nobility (so he thinks), Barkington because that’s one awesome surname, and “of Charlotte” as one does with royal lines.

Duke, as we refer to him in casual company, is big, and goofy, and recently neutered so he’s working through some stuff. But I did sit down with him yesterday and ask him to write out a Christmas list to send “Baby Jesus.” He’s very confused about Christmas, and Santa, and religion, and well, most things. This might be a good time to tell you he’s also a Republican. He was just born that way. There’s no conversion therapy. Believe me, I’ve checked. And not that this is an excuse, but again, he was born in South Carolina.

Anyway, I asked Duke what he wanted Santa, err, Baby Jesus to bring him and he proceeded to write Baby Jesus a letter and I’m sharing it with you today just in case you have a big, brown, fluffy, Republican dog to buy for too. You’re welcome.

M.

From the Desk of Sir Duke Barkington of Charlotte

Dear Baby Jesus,

Remember last year, when my family put the Christmas tree up as a sacrifice to quench your thirst for plastic? And remember when I immediately took it down, chewed up the light cord, and ate three or four of Mommy’s presents? You still gave my gifts! Remember that?! You still, even though I destroyed your sacrifice, stuffed my stocking with treats and tennis balls. Since I wasn’t the best boy last year and you still gave me gifts, well, I can tell Baby Jesus that you are a generous soul, like me! I haven’t torn the tree up once this year. Even though Mommy had my testicles removed to teach me a lesson. What the lesson was, I don’t know, but I’m trying to be better.

So in the spirit of goodness and forgiveness I bring forth my list of Christmas demands wishes. Thank you. In Baby Jesus Jeff Session’s name we pray. Merry men!

Duke’s Christmas List

  • My testicles back, if not possible then the testicles of the doctor who took mine away.
  • A Cabbage Patch Doll, sourced locally from the Cabbage Patch General Hospital, with an additional 287 Cabbage Patch Doll heads. Not cabbage heads. I may know the difference.
  • A device that allows me to get into the lid of the trash can, can be creative, one-of-a-kind device. Must be operated by mouth and frustration.
  • Box of paper clips along with a detailed description of what they are, what they do, and why they make my gums bleed when I eat them.
  • A surefire win for President Trump in the 2020 elections. Nothing with Ukraine though, we’ve tried that.
  • Seven cases of whipped cream. Can be any brand except Starbucks, I don’t shop there anymore, since they didn’t put “Merry Christmas” on their cups seven years ago.
  • Socks. Just lots of socks, no questions asked.
  • A Chick-Fil-A gift card.
  • 700 tennis balls, the good kind, you know which kind I’m talking about, don’t cheap out.
  • A wife. She can be any breed as long as she’s a standard poodle. Must be white and from the United States. No French speakers.
  • A full spa day where Mommy doesn’t remind me 50 times that what she pays for my haircuts is ten times what she pays for her own, so I “better not stay outside too long in the damn rain.”
  • A rainstorm.
  • A stuffed Grinch. I saw it at Petsmart, but Mommy wouldn’t buy it for me. She said it cost too much. I get the sneaking suspicion that my stuffies come from secondhand stores. That’s not fair. I want brand new stuffies to rip apart in less than a minute.
  • Unrestricted access to all the bathrooms in the house. And any subsequent house I find myself.
  • A Trump Chiapet.

Thanks you Baby Jesus Santa, I look forward to our time together in a few weeks, wherein you attempt to come down the chimney and I stand at the bottom and wait to bite you. Your cookies will be long gone. Better bring a taser.

Love,

Duke