LEO EATS CHRISTMAS
One year I ate Christmas. It’s not that I was really hungry. I just had a taste for something different. Something authentic. Something sweet, yet tangy and a little bit wistful. So I started the same way I start every Christmas morning – with an orange and a tall, cold glass of chocolate milk. Then I moved to the living room door where the advent calendar hung. I treated it like a cheese platter, pulling each little pin-on piece from its straight pin with my teeth and savoring its flavor. Next, I swung that living room door wide open and soaked in the glory of that wonderful scene.
The stockings were hung by the chimney with care, so I followed family tradition, and I started with them. I ate another orange. I ate the peanuts and the pistachio nuts. I ate the green mint-flavored Hershey’s kiss-shaped things with the white sprinkles on the bottom. Then I ate the whole elf-britches stocking, right down to the pom-poms on its toes, and I turned my attention to the tree.
I tucked the tree skirt into my collar like a napkin and prepared for the smorgasbord. I started with the pointy thing on top – the one I always called “the star” which was definitely not star-shaped. Then I went for all the ceramic mice ornaments – kind of crunchy, but tasty nonetheless (they always were a family favorite). The rest of the ornaments followed. Some were past their prime (like the ones made from bread dough when I was nine) but they were just what I needed. Finally, I grabbed the tree, opened wide, and swallowed it down. Thankfully, we only got the seven-footer that year. Ten feet would’ve done me in. The needles were a bit on the poky side, but the tinsel soothed the descent rather well. (Side note: if you’re going to try this, go for a nice fir. Stay away from the spruces and ponderosas – OUCH!)
I went for the presents next. You can’t imagine the flavors of joy and love and excitement they contained. I ate three cedar chests. I ate two sleds. I ate my yellow car and the basketball hoop and the electronic keyboard. I even ate a computer monitor that I mistook for a television. I ate hours and hours of sawdust from the wood shop and the beauty of a new creation and the joy of giving and the wonder of receiving. Creation after creation went into my mouth. Chess sets and dressers and tables and bookshelves and desks and clocks and blocks and toys. It seemed I would never finish. And each one filled me with more joy than the one before. At last, I swallowed the last scrap and headed for the decorations.
I had to climb up into the attic to get them. There, I found the ratty old decoration box that had been around longer than I had, and I went to town. I started with the old wrapping paper. Most of it had been around longer than I had too. Some of it was downright stale. Then I ate Mr. and Mrs. Snowman and their whole scene – even the two elves that sometimes visited them (the ones who sat on their hands). Red Elf was tastier than Green Elf – kind of pepperminty. Green Elf was a bit sour . . . envy?
I then moved on to the music collection:
One swallow and down went Jonny Mathis, shouting, “Yoo-HOO!” (It was lovely weather for a sleigh ride, but it was even lovelier weather for a Christmas feast.)
Bing Crosby was dreaming of a white Christmas. So was I. Gulp. Down he went.
“Chestnuts roasting on an open fire . . .” Chestnuts? I’ve never tried a chestnut. Don’t mind if I do. Mmmmm, tasty. Thanks, Mr. King Cole!
I even ate the whole Mormon Tabernacle Choir. (“Hark, hear the bells, so many bells” . . . No, really -- SO many bells!!!)
Then I wiped the vinyl crumbs from my face and turned towards the lights. The ones around the big front window in the living room were okay, but the ones around the smaller window by the piano were even better. I think it was the frost that always collected on them. Then I ate the big star that flashed in different patterns, and I remembered sitting in the living room with all the lights out except for the tree and that star and the blue ones around the nativity scene. I was overcome by a sense of peace and beauty as the lights twinkled their reflections in the window, creating a strange holographic effect of colored lights over the snow-laden landscape. I reached for a piece of the nativity – the shepherd – and paused to look back at my gluttony.
I realized in that instant that I was getting full.
But there was so much more to consume! There was still Christmas turkey and fudge and Grandma’s English toffee and mom’s pecan logs. And what about the snow? I hadn’t even touched the snow . . .
All those sled-runs down the back hill
The snow penguin my sister and I made
The entire bathroom set made of snow
I wasn’t going to get to any of those or a myriad of other great memories.
No Christmas cards
No Pepperidge Farms gift baskets
Not even the traditional box of chocolates
But somehow, that didn’t make a difference. Because, by remembering them, they were inside me forever anyway. I looked down at the shepherd in my hand. He had a look of holy amazement on his face. I realized he probably wasn’t amazed at the fact that he was about to be eaten. That look of amazement wasn’t meant for me. I put the shepherd back down and faced him toward the manger. Then I looked with holy amazement at the Reason for all the joy and love and excitement that this season generates.
And I was full.