Christmas spirits dance in my head
By LISA SMITH MOLINARI | Special to Stars and Stripes | Published: December 16, 2016
Thanksgiving was over, to begin with.
I awoke at midnight from a strange dream of being chased by a mashed potato monster, but I couldn’t run, due to the weight of my own enormous thighs.
Then, suddenly, a form appeared at the foot of my bed wearing a floor-length polyester tartan skirt, a white ruffled blouse with huge tab collar, a crocheted vest and a Christmas tree pin.
“Hi, like, I’m the Ghost of Christmas Past, and I’m here to take you on a pretty groovy trip back to the 1970s,” the apparition said, twirling a segment of her long hair. No sooner did I grasp the ghost’s macrame belt than we were whisked on metal roller skates to the home of my youth.
It was Christmas 1974, and my brother and I were decorating the tree with tinsel, careful not to rest the silvery plastic strips on the hot bubble lights, while our mother wrote a shopping list that included fruitcake, tea towels, Avon perfume, Barbies, Tonka trucks and ribbon candies — gifts she would buy our family members with the money she saved in her Christmas account.
Mom served us cocoa in Santa mugs with icky mincemeat cookies as we waited for “The Year Without a Santa Claus,” which our console television might pick up if the antennae were turned just right. We lay contentedly on the green shag rug listening to a Burl Ives record, gazing up at our tree and its Styrofoam egg carton star.
I reached out, trying in vain to re-experience my youth, but was wrenched from my trance when a bubble light scorched my arm. “Ouch!” I exclaimed, and was back in my own bed, where I could hear a faint tapping sound.
There, I saw the second apparition, her thumbs poking at an iPhone. “Hey, how’s it going?” she said, “I’m the Ghost of Christmas Present, but gimme a sec, I’ve gotta answer this.”
Finally, the specter proclaimed, “All righty, touch my yoga pants and let’s do this thing, because I’ve got carpool duty soon.” I grabbed her spandex waistband and was transported to scenes of unimaginable chaos.
First, we saw my three-page Christmas list, which included gifts for the school lunch ladies, the ukulele instructor and our neighbors. Next, we joined a stampede of Black Friday shoppers poised to pepper spray each other over the last PlayStation 4 at Wal-Mart. At Starbucks, we paid $5 for Mocha Peppermint Chai Teas and $300 for gift cards. Then we dashed off to mail out 150 photo cards and letter inserts with exaggerated superlatives about our kids and the dog.
Then we ate, and ate, and ate. Gallons of hot dip and platters of cookies. We washed it all down with cartons of eggnog which, according to the sell-by date, would still be drinkable come Valentine’s Day.
Finally, the ghost dropped me in front of our HDTV virtual fireplace glowing beside our artificial tree with its economical LED lights. Exhausted, I pleaded, “Have mercy! Haunt me no more!”
Just then, a figure approached from the shadows. “Are you the Ghost of Christmases yet to come?!” I yelped in fear. The apparition only handed me a small high-tech device. With a swipe, I activated a holographic Christmas tree and started microwaving a vegan Tofurkey dinner. In mere nanoseconds, I live streamed Christmas greetings to friends of friends of friends on Facebook.
But then, the spirit pointed a long finger at the device. On the screen appeared countless images of pale people alone in the dark clicking buttons on Christmas. “Oh, no, Spirit!” I cried, clutching at his robes, “I will heed these lessons and honor Christmas in my heart!”
I awoke in my own bed, and rushed excitedly down the stairs, shouting to my daughter, “Turn off that virtual fireplace before you dot another ‘i,’ Lillian Molinari!” To my husband, “Off with you to the Winn Dixie for the fattest turkey in the freezer case!” I ripped up my three-page shopping list, put on my Sinatra holiday CD and resolved to always keep Christmas well.
And lest I forget, God bless us, every one!