I love "A Christmas Story". It is a perfect metaphor for life. You really want something, you go through all this drama to get it, and it's not exactly what you thought it would turn out to be but it's okay.
My last Christmas with my family was in 1974. My Mom became a Jehovah's Witness that year and our family moved from my Dad's home in the Virgin Islands to the suburbs of Northern Virginia. My Mom was preparing for Christmas when the Witnesses came to our door with their smiling faces and their Watchtower magazine. They told my Mom they held "The Truth" and knew "God's Word". She told them to come back after the Holidays because she was busy with her Christmas ham. I remember that Christmas, our plastic white Christmas Tree with the shiny blue round ornaments. Simple, artificial and clean.
I don't remember what I got for Christmas that year but I do recall soft fuzzy things and brown skinned baby dolls bathed in pink. I remember feeling so much love with my brother and sister and Mom and Daddy in our pajamas with lots of presents egg nog and ham in our little pink house by the airport on St Thomas. When the Witnesses returned, my Mom was hooked.
She was 37 years old when she found her true calling. We moved from the Virgin Islands to the suburbs of Northern Virginia. My Mom was instantly respected and revered in the Kingdom Hall. She was beautiful, had style, grace and could entertain. My Dad diddn't believe" The Truth" but he did not prevent Mom from pursuing her calling. If she was happy, he was happy and he was happy to come home to a warm meal, big screen TV and his cars.
I wanted to please my Mom so I read the bible and believed everything she wanted me to believe. The book of Revelations was one of my favorites. All of those vivid images, multi headed beasts, the lakes of fire, drunken harlots riding dragons and the four horsemen of the apocolypse. All that violence and destruction frightened and intrigued me. I would lay awake at night terrified that demons would posses me and that armegeddon would come. I was compelled to share my knowledge with the world... I, 10 year old Jeanine T. Abraham, had to save the world by preaching and sharing "The Truth"!
I was zealous and pure armed with my purpose... to save the world armed with God's word! I knew the pagan history of Christmas but I also loved the lights and the music and how everyone was nice to each other for a day. I would secretly watch Charlie Brown Christmas and How the Grinch Stole Christmas and I loved it. I wanted to please my Mom, and I wanted to be accepted at school. I wanted Christmas, a family who gave presents to one another, a family that was "normal".
Puberty hit and I changed. I turned my inner anxiety onto my Mother, but I was so afraid of her I could never directly confront her. So I did what all kids do, I began to lie. I could create stories that were so much better than my actual life and people believed them! So, my lies solved my problems for a time. In High School, I re-invented myself. I was not a Jehovah's Witness in school. I stopped preaching and avoided being seen with my Mom. I would get up at 5 in the morning to take my Dad to work, so that I could use his car to drive to school. I started my first retail job around Christmas time so I could buy my own Christmas presents and come to school after break in January with brand new things.
I wanted to be accepted, I wanted to be like everyone else but I never was. I would lie and get caught and be in trouble all the time. I loathed the religion and everyone involved with it. It had ruined my life!! My comfort and joy were in the TV shows where I could watch normal families have normal Christmases even if hey were dysfunctional like "A Christmas Story".
At 19 I decided to leave the Jehovah's Witnesses and become an actor. I wanted my own home and community. I wanted the Christmases I had seen on TV and in the movies. Even if they were crazy and filled with drama, the Christmasses I heard about from friends and observed in the media seemed delightful.
Living on my own, I have spent most of my Christmases on my own. The first few in NYC I was with my cat watching A Christmas Story and It's a Wonderful life on cable. Every year during the holidays, I am on my own. The Christmas I really want, doesn't happen. I think we all have an idea about what Christmas should be, then there's the reality of what it really is.
I love A Christmas Story because like in life, the characters are naughty, afraid and mean, cocky and sometimes insane. The characters do stupid things, like sticking their toungues to metal poles in the freezing cold. They run from the bully Scott Farkus, Ralphie spends the entire movie obsessing about the Red Ryder gun and every adult tells him he can't have it because it will shoot his eye out, and when he does get what he wants, it shoots him in the eye. And he's okay.
So for those of you going thru the tough shit this holiday season, not getting what you want.... know that no matter how down you feel it's okay to feel it. Live in reality, as is. I promise no matter how hard it gets you are going to be okay.