Some things you learn early in life. Like how to tie your shoes. This starts pretty early at least as soon as you can coordinate your hands and brain to get the task done. Sweeping the floors for your folks might come next. As early as about five or six just because parents seem to want you to get started with work as soon as possible. Washing your hands and covering your mouth this one is taught for health and hygiene. We learn to brush our teeth because we don’t want to lose those precious choppers or offend anyone with bad breath.
We learn early how to play doctor and nurse. And if those adults in our lives would have left us be we would all be a lot healthier sex wise but they had to pass on their fears and phobias to us. So we learn fear and phobia’s early.
Christmas is a time of learning all about family habits, with rituals and routines that we keep over and over. Some of us might get an inspiration to do something different but not many. We are creatures of habit. There are those who enjoy a tree up two months early and lights are placed in sequence around the house. Outside begins to resemble Hollywood back lots with all the frills and blinking lights. We enjoy placing rain deer out front and the snow man on top of the house. Other’s enjoy a snowy looking yard and dress it up with all kinds of white things to show a bit of ole man winter.
Every Christmas is different and some are filled with giggles and thoughts of what we will get this time. One year I got a PlayStation, my very first gaming system. As an adult learner of these new gadgets I was thrilled nearly to tears. My wife and family all thought this was funny. They surprised me for the first time ever. But sometimes my mind goes backwards in time. As the joys I see now are replaced by more serious thoughts of yesterday.
Long ago, nearly thirty three years Christmas was very different. We grew up in a very small town. One of those towns where everyone knows all about you and you know all about them. The kind of place that for a few is a great life but for others it is a place of resentment and fear. I can remember being teased so badly I wanted to die. I can remember being shot at when I went for a walk. The other child who pulled the trigger had gotten his gun from his father the Christmas before. Obviously that father forgot to tell the kid people were not in season.
I can also remember the smells of the trees and dessert when everything was fresh right after a rain storm. With the sweet scents and clean air that flowed into my nose, very much like a cold snowy Christmas morning. Everything was so fresh and crisp.
That Christmas I had a friend who was also teased relentlessly. She and I had become fast friends. And even though we were very different she never treated me badly. And I tried my best to return the kindness.
My friend that year was in eighth grade. We were very different socially. I hung out by myself she hung out with her Latina friends. They would giggle at all of us boys but now and then they would smile and wink. Lilly was a beautiful girl, with her big brown eyes and long eyelashes, her smile lite up a room. We began our friendship by chance one day in science class. She was sitting behind me. She grabbed my arm and begged me to stay. It was cold I had my jacket she did not bring one. She showed me she had begun her period in class. As she stood the wooden seat was red with blood. I took my jacket off and escorted her to the restroom so she could clean up. She cried and cried from embarrassment I suppose. When she emerged from the bathroom with my jacket in hand she thanked me with a kiss on the cheek. From that day on if anyone bothered her I would jump in to guard her honor.
Lilly had been gone most of that last year from school. With no word from her I called her up one day. When her mother answered the phone I asked what was going on and where was she and why had she not called me. Her mother let her speak to me. Lilly told me how she had been sick. She said she had been in the city at the hospital for treatments. She told me how the treatments made her sick and she had lost all of her hair. Then she told me how she now had boobs. The size she said was huge. She sounded happier about her breasts than anything else. She giggled and said the boys at school had been mean to her when she came back for a little while. I had not seen her but heard rumors about her. I asked her if I could do anything for her, she told me sure we will talk at school.
We met the very next week and she wanted me to try something. Something she said made it easier for her to eat. So she did not vomit that much. Lilly frightened me with how mature she seemed our days of flirting and playing had suddenly ended. She asked me to smoke some pot and I felt obligated to share this moment with her so I did. She told me how she now wanted to have sex with a man she was going to die after all so she wanted to know what it was like to be a woman. And she begged me not to tell anyone of her plans. She asked me what I thought and I of course said why not me? She told me I was a boy not a man and she needed a man. I was crushed and now stoned.
Lilly made everything seem extraordinarily exciting and somehow I wanted to love her but I knew she wanted a grown up not me. Her body seemed strangely stimulating to me all though I was a bit put off by some of her changes. She wore a black wig it was a heavy thing with hard hair. Not like now the ones with natural synthetic hair. I wanted her more than any other girl and she knew it. This time she gave me my first real kiss. A deep wet slobbery kiss, we find so gross and so great at the same time.
That would be the last year of our lives together. We made plans for Lilly to come by on Christmas day I thought she would have dinner with us. Christmas rolled around Lilly came over with a strange man in a big truck. She introduced me to Hector her fiancee she called him. I gave Lilly her present, some little necklace I thought the green stones would tell her how precious she was to me. She thanked me told me she just stopped by to say Merry Christmas. She gave me a hug and got back into the big truck sliding over next to Hector.
Lilly died that February she had just turned fourteen. And all though time they say heals all wounds that Christmas was the one when I grew up the most. And realized life has tough moments that test us all.
May your Holidays be filled with happier moments and may you find love for all those who touch you every day. Peace to all.