The most joyous Christmas I ever experienced happened the year my daughter was 5 years old. It was the last year I spent as a full-time stay-at-home mom-dude. We were living in Washington State at the time and everything turned out perfectly.
With Mt. Rainier looming majestically in the distance, our little family got in our tiny car and drove to a Christmas tree farm. Normally, I am emphatically against the brutal murder of trees simply for the sake of a holiday tradition but that year I threw all rules out the window. I wanted my daughter to experience a full-blown traditional Christmas.
So I paid the farmer for a tree then our little family hiked through the snow to the acreage on which we were allowed to cut a tree. We wandered around a little searching for the perfect tree. We came to an area where all the trees seemed perfect.
That is when I stopped and turned to my daughter, “You know, your mother and I are not going to pick a tree. We think that YOU should be the one to pick it.”
Her face lit up, “Me? Really?”
“Whatever tree you pick is the one we’ll get.”
My daughter jumped up and down clapping her mittened hands. She then quickly turned to the nearest tree and pointed, “I pick that one!”
A Christmas tree can be very special, even a bit magical, to a small child. But it becomes even more magical when it is the child who picks it out.
While silently promising Mother Nature that I would plant at least ten trees to make up for what I was doing, I cut down that tree and we dragged it to the car and tied it atop the car (the tree was almost bigger than the car). We brought it home and the family decorated the tree together.
While that tree certainly helped make that Christmas special, it was not the main ingredient.
My daughter at that age was a natural-born comedian. Twice we let her watch a (clean) stand-up comedy act on TV. That is all it took for her to learn all the nuances of performing comedy; style, gesturing, timing, etc. It wasn’t long before she would order her mother and me to sit on the couch and be her audience while she performed her own stand-up comedy.
It was never long before her mother and I were rolling on the floor in out-of-control hysterical laughter. Our daughter really was outrageously funny. For a while I was convinced that she would become a stand-up comic when she grew up.
That year in Washington my daughter’s maternal grandfather and his current wife came all the way from Texas to visit us for Christmas. It was our daughter that turned my father-in-law into a grandpa. It was a role that suited him perfectly. He loved nothing better than visiting his precocious granddaughter and laughing at her antics.
The relationship between myself and my father-in-law had gotten off on the wrong foot many years earlier when he threatened me and ordered me to stay away from his daughter or else. I ignored his threats and eventually married his daughter and then we had a kid. Suddenly everything was okey-dokey between us.
I actually started really liking him, mostly because he was a truly funny man (much like my own father). And he started liking me, too. I began looking forward to when he visited.
Not only was he very funny but he was constantly laughing. Constantly! And he had a very infectious laugh. You could go into a room he was in and hear him laugh and you would immediately start laughing even though you had no idea what he was laughing about. That’s how infectious his laugh was.
So that Christmas the audience for my daughter’s stand-up comedy routine doubled from two to four. Not surprisingly, the quality of her stand-up routine also doubled. All my daughter needed was an audience in order to perform. So on Christmas Eve the four adults became her audience and she performed for us. It was definitely her best performance ever.
That Christmas there was more laughter than any other 15 Christmases combined. Seriously! That is what made that Christmas so special.
The main ingredient was laughter!
As it turned out my daughter never became a stand-up comedian when she grew up, in fact she grew less and less funny with each passing year. (Growing up sucks.) By high school she had become a quasi stick in the mud and now that she’s in her thirties with a full-time job, two kids and a husband to take care of, as well as a house, well… she’s just not funny at all anymore!
I have spent holiday time with her and her family each of the last seven years. While she will smile and feign merriment, she no longer laughs.
I’ve realized that I need to do something about this. I’ve finished all my Christmas shopping this year except for a present for my daughter. I’ve realized that the best present I could get her would be to make her laugh hysterically. Her Christmases have been missing the main ingredient.
I’ve been at a loss. I don’t know what to do. I realized that I need help.
So I went deep within myself and climbed down the stairs to the dungeon with my ring of keys. I unlocked the cage where I keep my own inner comedian. I opened the door to the cage and set my inner comedian free but I told him that I wanted something in return. I told him that I desperately needed and wanted his help to make my daughter laugh for Christmas.
The clock is ticking. Christmas is less than two weeks away. We haven’t come up with anything yet but we’re seriously working on it.
After all, it’s very, very, very important. Christmas isn’t Christmas without the main ingredient.
Copyright by White Feather. All Rights Reserved.
Here is my Christmas story from two years ago: