What set off the flashbacks today was the Drugstore Shopping Spree on Slate with the slideshow of ten gifts under $30 that you can buy at CVS at 10:30 p.m. on Christmas Eve. Yes, I'm having flashbacks to my holiday season from hell. That would be Christmas 1987.
I have only the smallest inkling of the post-traumatic stress disorder experienced by war vets and victims of violent assaults. My stress level was much less extreme, but the personal vehicle known as my Self did not have adequate emotional armor that winter.
My oldest son was barely five when he started kindergarten in an Omaha suburb in August of '87. By Labor Day my spouse was transferred to Oklahoma City, and I was single-parenting and trying to sell our house (the nearly perfect house where I had hoped to live the rest of my life). Try having your house ready to show on an hour's notice when you have a kindergartner, a two-year-old, an infant, and an extremely malodorous anti-social hamster!
We moved to Edmond, Oklahoma that Thanksgiving weekend. Having "Thanksgiving dinner" at Waffle House No. 131 on I-35 with three little kids was the bottom for comparing all other Thanksgivings! Friday morning we woke up early at the motel, and my spouse dropped us off at our freezing rental house to meet the moving van. The house had a bizarre floorplan that defied all logical furniture arrangements, and our necessary belongings were in a mountain of boxes. My eyebrow began to twitch, and we all began to itch and scratch.
My spouse was working fourteen-hour days. I had lost my entire support system, and thought our itching was stress-related. After a few days the boys and I were covered in welts, and I had to find a doctor. Our rental house was infested with fleas, and they were attacking us for want of the former canine residents.
After Jeff left on the schoolbus one morning, I got the younger two bundled up and strapped into the minivan. We were on a mission to Westlake Hardware on Broadway Ave. to buy flea bombs. I was so stressed that doing all my Christmas shopping for grown siblings and in-laws in the hardware store seemed perfectly rational. With the little guys sitting in the shopping cart I bought up sweater shavers, de-icing spray, duct tape, a tiny bicycle with training wheels requiring some assembly, kitchen towels, mini-crockpots, bird feeders, padlocks, Phillips-head screwdrivers, chef's aprons, flashlights, shower curtains, shower squeegees, extension cords, and timers for electric lamps.
When my spouse finished work late that Christmas Eve, we loaded up the minivan and white-knuckled it all night driving through the scariest ice storm I've ever experienced. Made it to Grandma's house in Omaha in time for the morning opening of presents. My oldest immediately came down with chicken pox.
Flashlights are the perfect gift for everyone on your Christmas list! If you are just now starting your shopping, be sure to pick up the right size batteries for each flashlight. Preschoolers love flashlights for playing bedtime superheroes as they learn cause and effect. Older kids love reading Harry Potter under the covers. Everyone can use a flashlight with fresh batteries--teen drivers, tornado alley residents, people with overloaded power grids, those afraid of monsters in basements and closets or werewolves on the moors, those trapped overnight in the natural history museum, mothers looking at their kids' tonsils, campers, amateur film-makers doing primitive special effects, people who can't pay their utility bills, spelunkers, those signaling drug-runners or alien spacecraft, Rudolph wannabes... Say "ahhh"... Ahh is calm. All is bright...
Did a bit of hardware store shopping this Christmas season. My youngest is moving into his first apartment after the winter break. I've elegantly wrapped his Rubbermaid Covered Bowl Brush Set like a magnum of expensive champagne. It's a primo toilet brush--White. Plastic. Caddie opens with light pull of brush handle-closes when brush is replaced. Ventilated back. Bristle squeegee action hugs contour of bowl. One piece. Won't rust. Non-matting bristles. Made in United States. $4.99. I'm so envious! Makes me want to shine my flashlight back behind the john.
Life is good. I'd like a flashlight view of my future, but my kids have grown up terrific. They even occasionally clean their bathrooms. The hamster and the Waffle House are far in the past. The eyebrow twitch is subsiding. I hope Santa dips some chips in the queso warming in the mini-crockpot. Then we'll all gather to watch a demonstation of the open and close action of the toilet brush caddy.