I’m a Scrooge.
I hate the holidays.
I don’t mean I hate just Christmas. I hate Thanksgiving and New Year’s too. I celebrate January 2 – the end of the holidays.
I haven’t put up a Christmas tree in God knows how many years, though I force myself to toss a few white lights on the outside shrubs to be polite to the neighborhood and to hide my Scroogeness. This year, I didn’t even want to do that.
Then one Saturday afternoon I drove to Lowe’s remembering that the big box store had had a lighted Snoopy in a Santa suit that I thought was really really cute, and I wanted him. But I prayed Lowe’s wouldn’t have one in stock. It seemed a frivolous waste of money.
I walked into the store, looked at the Christmas shelves, and they were bare, thank God. Still, I found myself searching them high and low, aisle after aisle. There was nothing. One last time, I tilted back my head and looked high. There, on the very, very top shelf, far out of my reach, I spotted a Woodstock box. I found an employee and asked if he could get Woodstock for me. He said he could, but then another employee walked up and said he thought it was just an empty box. Thank God. And both men disappeared.
I turned in circles, trying to figure out where they’d gone, when they both magically reappeared – one with a ladder, another with a battered, green and red box, which he handed to me. It was a Snoopy box containing a seemingly discombobulated Snoopy as he had obviously been mantled and dismantled and crammed back into the box so that he barely fit in it. I took the box, thanked the man, and asked about the Woodstock, as the other employee climbed the ladder and shook the empty box, thank God.
The bottom line is that I talked Lowe’s into discounting the discombobulated Snoopy and came home, half happy, half regretting that I’d wasted money.
I turned on my computer, clicked on Facebook, and saw the same images I’d seen last Christmas – bookstores and authors building Christmas trees of books, then wrapping them in lights. I stared at my boxes of Secret Sex Lives. They’re the perfect color – red.
I pulled a table into my living room and started stacking Secret Sex Lives. This seems kind of sacrilegious – a Christmas tree of sex books. I kept stacking. I rearranged and rearranged. I crawled on the floor, put Snoopy together, and like an angel atop a tree, I put him on top of the books. I ran to the garage and found a string of lights and wrapped them around the books. I took picture after picture of my Secret Sex Lives/Snoopy tree. I posted it on Facebook, and I decided that for the first time in years, I’d have a tree in my house – a seemingly sacrilegious Secret Sex Lives/Snoopy tree.
Sandy Hook happened.
Twenty children dead.
Six school staffers.
Her mad adult son.
Like most of America, I found myself shaking.
Is this PTSD?
I kept thinking about Noah, Luke, John, Paul, and Mary Yates – five dead children at the hands of their mad mother. When I was writing Breaking Point, I used to go to bed at night hearing the Yates children’s tiny voices in my head. I’d wake in the middle of the night, go to my computer, turn it on, and watch videos of the Yates children, ensuring that their tiny voices were engrained in my head.
Eleven years later, I listened to news reports of the Sandy Hook children being told to close their eyes as they walked by dead bodies. I remembered too well being five years old and being told to look the other way as I was led by my father’s dead body. I found myself shaking even more.
Is this PTSD?
Oh, that seemed such a self-indulgent question. Shamefully self-indulgent.
I returned to the Sandy Hook news. I read the coverage. I watched the reports. I stared at Santa Snoopy for comfort. I looked at the photographs of the children who’d survived. I listened to their interviews. I watched the parents of the dead. I listened to their interviews. I read the emails from a friend in Newtown, Connecticut. Her son had gone to school with the killer. Her daughter had once worked at Sandy Hook and had lost some of her students. My friend shook. She didn’t know how to comfort her daughter. I looked at the faces of the survivors. And I dismantled my Secret Sex Lives/Snoopy Christmas tree.
I carried Snoopy outside, propped him in my front yard. I got all the strings of lights that I could find and tossed them on my shrubs. For the kids, I did this. For the kids in my neighborhood. In this world right now, they need a little light and happiness, even if it’s just a Snoopy in a Santa suit. Or a Suzy Scrooge trying to hide herself in a Snoopy Santa suit. For the kids, I’ll gladly do that.
Merry Christmas. And I mean that – MERRY Christmas to all.
And next year, I just might buy a Woodstock.