Our Perfectly Doomed Christmases


“There’s nothing like getting hit by a car during your Christmas break to make you miss the clashing personalities, the different perspectives, the loud arguments, the stress and the chaos of family holidays.”

By Stephanie Motz Skinner | Twitter: @stephmotz

‘Twas the Christmas season of 2007. Montreal was dressed in white. The snow on the ground reflected the lights and decorations that hung from lamp posts and store fronts. The streets were empty as people were keeping warm with their loved ones inside the boutique restaurants and cozy bars on L’avenue Mont-Royal.I walked home alone, absorbed in my thoughts and listening to sad, sad music that reminded me of my brothers in Germany. My friends–all international students–had returned to their families abroad, but that year I couldn’t afford to buy a ticket to be with my family.

I plodded with sorry, heavy steps towards my apartment, and turned up the volume on my iPod. I was lost in a moment of nostalgic memory as I stepped onto the snow-covered street in front of me. Suddenly, a sharp pain surged through my back and I found myself flying through the air. I never believed it before, but now I know it’s true—that there are certain moments when we live in slow motion. I remember looking up to the sky and admiring how beautiful the moon looked on that starry night. But that moment of awe quickly ended as I landed on my backside in agonizing pain. I tried to catch my bearings as a man emerged from a car just a few meters away, to ask if I was okay.

“Yes, I’m fine,” I said.

He helped me stand and then raced back to his car and sped off into the snowy darkness before I could make sense of it all. I was only two blocks from home and so I trudged painfully on. I arrived at my empty apartment feeling so lonely. I knew that I was going to be fine, but I still wished I had someone with me at that moment. I thought of the times I got sick at home and my mom would bring me soup in bed and we’d watch ER together. I remembered the times I sprained my ankle and my dad would apply ice and gently massage my foot to help with the swelling.

But that night nobody felt sorry for me; nobody made me soup or sang soft kitty.

There’s nothing like getting hit by a car during your Christmas break to make you miss the clashing personalities, the different perspectives, the loud arguments, the stress and the chaos of family holidays.

Christmas in my family was never like the classic movies. There weren’t any fancy arrangements, inspiring scenes or timeless quotes. Things never went according to plan; in fact, we hardly bothered to make plans. No, our Christmases were more like Ralphie Parker’s.

In my Christmas memories the gifts are stolen from the car and Mom is sent into fits of panic; the frozen turkey we bought the morning of the feast sits in the backyard and is still thawing in the midday sun just hours before the guests are supposed to arrive; and my brother accidentally sets a tree on fire at a hotel.

I don’t know how we do it, but in my family we have a way of making a meal of Christmas. There have been moments where we wanted to pull our hair out, scream at the top of our lungs or hide under the dinner table and cry. But being away from my family at such a special time of the year always makes me realize how lucky I am to have so many crazy memories.

As I lay in bed that night nursing my bruised body, I realized that I missed our perfectly doomed Christmases.

Today, I’ve shed a lot of expectations about what the perfect Christmas should look like. When I was alone I didn’t miss the gifts, and I certainly didn’t miss the Christmas tree (my mom threw that out with all the decorations still on it when nobody bothered to put it away, and it collected dust in our living room until June one year). I’ll admit that I maybe missed the food. But the thing I missed the most was my family.

I’m reminding myself this Christmas that the most important thing is that we are finally all together again, and nothing could be more perfect.

Merry Christmas, my dear SheLoves friends! I’d love to hear:

  • What does Christmas look like in your family?
  • Do you have any crazy Christmas memories?
  • Who are you spending Christmas with this year?

About Stephanie:

I believe in the power of storytelling. I’m a photographer and writer for Fakeleft. Together with my husband, we love sharing stories of courage, of strength in the face of adversity, of triumph and hope. I truly believe that by partnering with others who want to bring change and justice to our world, we can actually make a difference. I’m learning to walk in my nascent faith, but it’s not always easy. It’s an interesting journey.

I am currently living in Montreal, Canada, but my heart is everywhere. I’m a proud Latina from Choluteca, Honduras. I wish I had a Latino accent. My favourite meal is dessert and my favourite sport is tanning. I blog at fakeleft.com and tweet at @stephmotz.

 Image Credit: Sars Richardson