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A Christmas Story
Every year my mother says that our Christmas preparations should go as smoothly as her applying foundation. Every year this never happens. I know Christmas is a time for miracles, but a calm run up to the Jackson family Christmas is surely beyond help.
The annual holiday chaos started with the putting up of the Christmas tree, and with my two hyperactive younger siblings around, this was a major risk.
"No Jamie! Spit it out!" my younger sister Zoe yelled, as she saw my four year old brother eating pine needles off the Christmas tree. Jamie body swerved her attempts to grab him and not content with trying to eat the pine needles himself, became most determined that the fish should try this festive nouvelle cuisine.
"They not been fed yet Charlotte so I gived them a present!" he wailed, as I tried to fish out the pine needles.
"Jamie, if they eat that, we'll be standing by the toilet this time tomorrow singing 'Asleep In The Deep'," I sighed, feeding the fish, who completely ignored the fish flakes and went for the pine needles instead.
My mum had given me charge of the siblings as well as instructions ("Big baubles at the bottom and little ones at the top. Oh, and be careful with that set of sparkly ones. They've been in Dad's family since he was little." before disappearing to the kitchen to make a "very important phone call". However by the time my dad came home, I had got into such a tangle with the lights that I had forgotten to keep an eye on Jamie, who immediately had made a beeline for the forbidden sparkly baubles and was treating them like clackers. The first I knew of this was a howl of "MY BALLS!" from my dad as he leapt across the room. Of course the ornaments had no chance and shattered onto the carpet. Dad looked as shattered as they did and Jamie, who seemed to know that this was A Very Bad Thing, began to wail.
There's nothing like a nice peaceful family, and this is nothing like a nice peaceful family.
However, I sensed this was the calm before the storm and the worst was yet to come.
My psychic abilities proved to be correct! I was rudely jolted awake by the sound of my mother screaming. Thinking it was World War Three: I jumped put of bed and flew downstairs, catching phrases such as "Zoe, you're ten years old, you should know better!" and "Football is not played in the house!"
"Wuzzgoinon?" I managed, bursting dramatically into the room. I was met with the following:
Tree, draped artistically over the living room couch.
Pine needles everywhere.
Ornaments on carpet, chairs etc.
Sean's football, bobbing about in the fish tank and startling our fish.
Mum's (and consequentially, my) mood deteriorated further when Sean broke a jar of expensive sauce, which my mum wanted to use for dinner. He spent half an hour grizzling because he wasn't allowed to eat bits of it off the floor, and I had to get the train into town for another, which was a phenomenally stupid decision on my mother's part.
"Why?" I protested? "There's a Tesco round the corner!"
Big mistake. "Because we need other things from in town! (nothing you can't get at Tesco) And Charlie, you will do as you are told, thank you! I have your siblings to watch and the magazine staff are coming round!" she was referring to the magazine she is the editor of, "Fashion House". The employees are basically Scottish versions of Sex And The City girls.
The train into Glasgow at Christmas is suicidal, and I did not want to go in if I could help it. However, my mum seemed determined to turn our house into something out of a Good Housekeeping Christmas Special, and I was suspecting this was why my dad "had to go into work early".
As suspected the train journey was not pleasant, and when I started singing "Hey Rock And Roll" to cheer myself up, a big group of girls started whispering to their boyfriends, who started shouting at me, "Ya weirdo!"
Marks and Spencers was, if possible, worse. When I got the last jar of sauce, a bulldog resembling an old woman whacked me around the shins with her walking stick and when stopped by a checkout girl, her justification was that I was being rude to her by grabbing it first. her companion was equally fierce looking and attempted to run me over with a Zimmer frame before they left muttering about "cheeky brats" and "bringing back the belt".
When I finally got home, limping, weary and footsore, I was greeted with the news that Great Aunt Lucy is coming for Christmas dinner. This is indescribably bad news.
I collapsed in elegantly onto the couch before being evicted by Sean, who put on one of his Barney videos. That yellow toed, purple, educational nightmare worked a treat, and I jumped up, bumped into the newly resurrected tree and knocked it straight over again, and was out of the room and halfway up the stairs before you could say "it's the Barney bag!"