As a StoryTerrace writer, Amanda interviews customers and turns their life stories into books. Get to know her better by reading her autobiographical anecdote below
I belong to a functional family. We have rules. We are on time. We do not yell. To live with us in my childhood years was to follow a meticulously organized and well carried out program day in and day out. This might sound like torture to you, but we loved the pragmatic, productive, and predictable pattern of our lives.
Christmas of 2002, however, refused to follow suit. My mom tried. My sister and I attempted to help, in our late adolescent kind of way. Even my dad did his best—confined to his hospital bed—but Christmas would not cooperate.
Nineteen days before Christmas morning, my dad had a successful heart transplant. He was doing well, but would not be able to come home for three months, let alone Christmas. Despite the situation, my mom was determined to make it a holly, jolly holiday.
She got the nurses to bake her lasagna in their lounge. Self-titled the “Ghost of Christmas Excess” she bought and hauled all of our gifts to the 7th floor. The feat was impressive by many standards! She directed my sister and I to decorate the family waiting room, where we used scotch tape from the nurses station to affix a tree shaped blob of tinsel on a floor to ceiling window overlooking the city of Rochester, Minnesota. Everything was set for a perfect day.
On the afternoon of Christmas Eve, we hung our stockings from my dad’s IV pole and marched down to the chapel for service. The church was packed. Gurneys and wheelchairs cluttered the aisles and the dutifully early—which we normally would have been—occupied all the good seats.
Part way through the sermon Dad’s IV pole started buzzing and beeping, making a holy havoc of noise. Startled and truly scared that something was very wrong, we quickly shuffled out of the church. We were thankful when we figured out it was a false alarm—and also that the service was already over when we tried to return. The lasagna burned. The taped tree fell off the window.
The day was a disaster, full of more emotion and chaos than our calm and organized family was used to experiencing. But even amongst the most dysfunctional of Christmases, our functional family had a holiday we will always remember … mostly because it was full of memories too terrible to forget!
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