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My Worst Christmas Ever — Guest Donna Andrews

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Join me in welcoming Donna Andrews the prolific author of the Meg Langslow Mystery series. She is here celebrating the recent release of How The Finch Stole Christmas. Here is a little about the book:

Meg’s husband has decided to escalate his one-man show of Dickens’ A Christmas Carol into a full-scale production with a large cast including their sons Jamie and Josh as Tiny Tim and young Scrooge and Meg helping as stage manager.

The show must go on, even if the famous—though slightly over-the-hill—actor who’s come to town to play the starring role of Scrooge has brought a sleigh-load of baggage and enemies with him. And why is Caerphilly suddenly overrun with a surplus of beautiful caged finches?

How the Finch Stole Christmas! is guaranteed to put the “ho ho hos” into the holidays of cozy lovers everywhere with its gut-bustingly funny mystery.

My Worst Christmas Ever

I wish I could tell you what year it was, and how old I was when my worst Christmas ever happened. Old enough that I still had utter faith in the omniscience and omnipotence of Santa Claus, that’s all I know. Nor can I remember what toy it was that I wanted with such fierce intensity that I knew I’d just die if I didn’t get it. But when I realized–

I’m getting ahead of my story. I should explain that by the time this particular Christmas rolled around, our family holiday rituals were established. My brother and I woke up early—probably before dawn—but we knew the rule was that we waited until our parents, who slept in a downstairs bedroom, came to the foot of the stairs to call us to see what Santa had brought. I don’t remember if my brother and I consoled each other during the endless wait by complaining about how terrible it was to have parents who slept so late or if we stayed in our separate rooms pretending to sleep . . . pretending we weren’t going crazy from the wait.

Finally Mommy and Daddy would appear, and we’d race downstairs. There would be presents, and then breakfast, and then a short drive to my maternal grandparents’ house for more presents, followed by Christmas dinner. The only thing children love more than ritual is a ritual filled with good things like presents, candy, and food.

That fateful year I woke up even earlier than usual. My brother wasn’t up. It wasn’t even light. But I couldn’t go back to sleep. I had to know if Santa had brought me . . . whatever it was.

So I got up and crept down to take a peek.

Santa hadn’t come. Our stockings were still limp and empty. Beneath the tree were only the few wrapped presents that had come by mail from out of town relatives—no bounty from the North Pole.

After my initial shock, I came to the awful realization that both my brother and I must have done something truly awful for Santa to ignore us so completely. I had no idea what it could be. The few minor transgressions I could think of didn’t seem to warrant such stern punishment.

I slunk back upstairs in utter misery and crawled under the covers.

My parents probably wondered if I was sick when they came to rouse me and my brother that morning. Why would any child be so hard to pry out of bed on Christmas Day? Since the ritual required that we all enter the living room at the same time to see what Santa had brought, my brother couldn’t go in without me. And since I assumed my parents hadn’t peeked, I knew they didn’t yet know the magnitude of our naughtiness. But as soon as they saw the stark, bare living room, they’d know something was wrong, and they’d begin figuring out what it was we had done.

I finally steeled myself to face what I assumed would be the inevitable parental disappointment and the ensuing interrogation. I trudged downstairs.

Never had I seen a room so overflowing with presents. The stockings were about to burst from the candy and trinkets. And whatever it was that I’d coveted so passionately was front and center on my side of the present trove.

Santa hadn’t skipped us after all, I realized. We weren’t on his naughty list. He’d just come really, really late.

My worst Christmas ever. And maybe, once it was all over, also my best Christmas ever. I think I appreciated that year’s presents a lot more than the presents in years when I took it for granted that of course Santa would be coming.

But I never went down to peek again.

Readers: What was your worst Christmas ever?

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