Twelve Step Program. A Christmas Morning Story.

Back then on a dead end street ten children waited. Marilee’s children sat on the steps. A dozen steps split in half by a landing and a window. The morning light weakly slipped through the windows and the lights on the tree succumbed to another Christmas morn.

The children’s buttocks wiggled as they giggled, touched, bumped, and jockeyed for position. They tried to hush their tones, but not totally. Loud whispers, flatuitous verse upon the flat steps, and nudges with “stop touching me” utterances. Just enough noise to rouse the sleeping Santa at the bottom of the stairs to the right. Poor ole Santa fell asleep a few hours before.

A gurgled “not yet!” whiffled itself around the corner…then more sleeping.

So they sat and she snored.

They fidgeted and she took cleansing sighs.

They creaked the steps with flat bottoms buttocks and she swallowed the sugarplum fairy like a hair ball.

Their imaginations would bounce off each other like the little white dot jumped a top the Sing Along with Mitch songs on T.V. They knew underwear, socks, and pajamas lay under the tree, but what toy off “their list?” Which present of the urban sprawl under the tree would be non-essential individualized enjoyment?

The stairs imprisoned them like Babes in Toyland. They dragged their tin cups of impatience on the railing slats as if they were made of iron. Their bodies staggered on risers like the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, yet their voices didn’t evoke yuletide inspiration, rather a squawking plea for parole.

Their impatience gripped them. A committee formed on the landing to appoint a scapegoat. Someone had to directly ask the exhausted Merry Marilee if they could descend. They chose Carol. The baby. The spoiled. The cute. The Cindy Lou Who of our who’s who. Surely Santa Mom would be sympathetic to her soft cry for freedom.

Her miniature voice tumbled down the first flight of stairs… “Can we come down yet?”


Then a rustling and their fidgeting stopped, and ears perched and leaned. Out from the North Pole staggered an elf in a nightie. Red was her bed head hair as she passed. Her cat’s eye glasses aided her one open eye to the coffee pot. The flick of her cigarette lighter twice meant she was officially awake. The fridge opened and shut, and cupboards knocked a few times. Then she strolled past again to fetch her robe. Some thought they saw a smirk and a sleepy twinkle in her eyes.

Their eyes popped…hands almost clapped…and then nudging, touching, and scooting down the first flight of linoleum steps.

She came out of her den, grabbed a cup of coffee, and sat in her box seat in the living room.


“Alright, you can come see…”

They did see. Not her face glowing, but lights, sagged stockings, sleds, stuffed animals, and candy canes hanging from the branches.

They did see. Not the whole picture of her thinking and choosing and remembering sizes.

They did see. Not her exhaustion and sore muscles.

They did see, and now they see from their own box seats. They stopped by her North Pole later on Christmas day to appreciate the memories she created. The collective memories became greater than any doll or set of army men. The gift of joyful ambiance is far above any “thing” given. Each memory is a step on which to sit and wonder, like a child, how she did it.

Again, this year the memories sit under each of our ten trees. All my siblings and I will miss talking to her and stopping by for mincemeat pie on Christmas evening.

I wonder if there is mistletoe in heaven. I hope so. I hope she will be waiting there for us with some hanging over her head as she smirks, then purses her lips.