‘Twas the flight before Christmas…
You see, we were all set to take a holiday abroad that year. Chicago to Paris. I was only eight but had seen enough television and movies to know that France wasn’t exactly an ideal setting for Christmas, let alone having to spend it with my extended family and my jerk of an uncle – turns out I didn’t have to worry.
After a pretty harrowing night of surviving my dad trying to set up the Christmas lights and watching him accidentally electrocute Aunt Bethany’s cat, I overslept my alarm the morning of the flight and, in what the papers would label “The Worst Display of Parenting to Date”, my family left without me.
(I think they were rushing to get to the plane before my freeloading relative, Cousin Eddie, could catch up to them.)
I guess I was a bit nervous being at the house by myself at first, but once I realized that I could eat ice cream, watch dirty movies and play with my brother Buzz’s stuff, I got over it.
In fact, everything was going great until my parents sent my Aunt Holly to pick me up and bring me along to her company’s Christmas Party at the Nakatomi Plaza building. I probably would have just stayed hidden under the bed, but she said that Santa would be there, and, next to Christmas trees, he was my favorite.
I was a bit skeptical as I sat on Santa’s lap. He looked more like a fat Tim the Tool-man Taylor and he kept grunting obnoxiously. Besides, I was no dummy – I knew the real Santa would be at Macy’s on 34th street – or at least that’s where he gets his mail.
Either way, I had just told Santa about how I wanted a Red Ryder BB gun when some terrorist named Hans Gruber seized the tower and began threatening all the party guests. See, I explained to Santa, this is why I need to arm myself…
I hid easily enough despite being barefoot on a glass-filled floor and managed to use a radio to call Sgt. Al Powell of the LAPD. He kept complaining about not having the nerve to fire his gun, but I guess I talked some sense into him because at the end when I saved Aunt Holly and others from harm by explaining to everyone that “The best way to end Christmas terror is singing loud for all to hear”, a henchman popped up and was going to shoot me, but Sgt. Powell fired first and saved our lives.
When we got home, Aunt Holly sure let me have it for being irresponsible and missing the flight and also for losing my shoes. I thought the yelling was bad enough but when I saw that Aunt Holly didn’t even have a Christmas tree, I told her I wished I’d never been born. Well… careful what you wish for!
Suddenly I was back in my hometown, Bedford Falls and, while it was still Christmas Eve, everything seemed a bit off. Firstly, it wasn’t even called Bedford Falls, now it was called Whoville and it was run by a real Grinch of a banker whose heart was two sizes too small. And Bert, my good friend the policeman, and Ernie, the cab driver, didn’t even recognize me!
I rushed to the newsstand and looked in horror at the headline, “Nakatomi Plaza Building Explodes, 48 dead.” But I saved them?! How could this happen? And that’s when some homeless looking angel named Clarence explained that since I’d never been born – no one was there to lead them in song against the terrorists!
After dealing with Clarence’s dry humor for a bit, I admitted I was wrong. And suddenly I was standing in the snow on Christmas Eve outside the church where my scary neighbor that’s always carrying a shovel’s granddaughter was singing ‘Oh Holy Night’. It was a Christmas miracle!
As I began to walk home and think back at what an eventful holiday it had been, my peace turned to concern as a nearby clock began chiming loudly and I noticed a van with two suspicious individuals following me.
Turns out they weren’t burglars, just a couple of ghosts that were running late and needed directions to find some Ebeneezer guy’s house to teach him a lesson about charity and what Christmas is really about… and if there was time, maybe turn all the faucets in his house on.
As they drove off, I laughed to myself and picked up my pace a bit – my family would be getting back soon and I had left crushed ornaments and booby traps all over the house. Plus I needed to hide that “Angels with Filthy Souls” video before my parents found it.
Yes, I still smile as I think back to that magical Christmas and (even though my parents claim they’ve never been to France and I need to turn off Netflix and go play outside) I can’t help but think – it really is a wonderful life!