Christmas is for giving…………..

Christmas poster corpus christi 010This is an old Christmas story going back to when  I was in first grade . Last century stuff , ancient history . But it came to mind again today , and so here goes another post . That’s one of the nice things about having a meandering blog . I can put anything in here with no need to hold true to some particular topic . I can wander .  So , here goes :

My elementary school , I think , had a Christmas charity drive every year . It did while I was in first grade , at least . I attended a Catholic school . Sister Carmel Mary was my teacher . My friend Joe asked a couple of weeks ago if I went to  ” elementary” school or “grade” school . I was very sure at the time of my answer to Joe . No hesitation or shred of doubt crossed my mind then  . Now I momentarily don’t know if we called it the one or the other . I remember the first grade , though , and Sister Carmel Mary . She was , as my mother would have said of decent people , “one of the good ones”  .

Anyway , every kid in our school had to make a poster for this Christmas charity drive . Or , was it a Christmas fair ? CHRISTMAS IS FOR GIVING , SO WE’RE GIVING A……………..   I will need to dig the poster out of the garage . It’s sitting somewhere in the four-drawer file cabinet . My mother had saved it . I laminated it several years ago . CHRISTMAS IS FOR GIVING , SO WE’RE GIVING A ……………I should remember  the finish . I should . I should remember how I answered Joe , too . But , temporarily , I don’t . [ Never fear ; we’ll check the evidence ] I’ve been known to  forget my own phone number , too .  Nobody’s perfect .Christmas poster corpus christi 008

I procrastinated on the poster assignment . The due date kind of snuck up on me  . I had no ideas for a poster .  I wasn’t very creative . I wasn’t much of an artist .  I’d be out of luck if I dared show up to Sister Carmel Mary’s  class without a  Christmas poster . Desperation time came and still I  had no poster , and none in progress , and no ideas .

My older sister , Pat,  stepped in . I think that Pat was in eighth grade at the time . She was artistic and creative and she volunteered to do a poster for me .  It had a Christmas tree decorated with wrapped presents [ We’ll check the evidence to verify ] .  The words  there were : CHRISTMAS IS FOR GIVING , SO WE’RE GIVING …………Christmas poster corpus christi 007

My name went onto the poster . It was Pat’s work , of course , though .  I turned it in as mine . That , as it turned out , wasn’t a good idea .

Oh , did I mention that there was a school-wide poster contest ?  Oh  yeah .  Guess what happened ?  I’ll give you a couple of moments to mull it over .

Oh , did I mention that  the winning poster would be silk-screened by a local artist , published in the local paper , and a copy placed in the front windows of all the little businesses around town ?  Oh yeah .

So , there I was , my short , stupid little first grade self standing next to Sister Carmel Mary having my photo taken by a reporter from the local paper .  “My” poster won . That was devastatingly embarrassing  .  I should have come clean , confessed , spilled the beans . Honestly , honesty  is the best policy , after all . But , that ship had already sailed as I attempted to force a  smile for the photographer  .  I just helplessly closed my tiny six- year old’s work-in-progress conscience and rode the sunami wave of shame and humiliation .

For weeks afterward , as I walked past those posters in the store windows ,  my annoying guardian angel would continually  squeal in my ear : That’s not your poster , Danny . You know that , right ? You’re an imposter . You know that , right ?   I was imprisoned within the unfamiliar walls of an unfortunate  set of circumstances , but what could I do ?  An adult world had invaded my close and comfortable child  space and turned my helpless small self  suddenly ,  incredibly , into an imposter- monster .Dan with sisters in1950s

Here I sit writing about this all these years later . I somehow survived the bottomless depths of guilt over the incident . I survived the misguided praise that I don’t , to be honest , remember , but that I suppose  that I  got . I survived the outrage , as I remember it , from my sister who had been the creator of the winning poster , but who had been denied credit for it  . I was the center of attention , holding up her work ,  having my name on it , and having my picture with her poster placed all over our little town .  Ouch .

I  got over the trauma of it , though ,  eventually ; but I never forgot it .   I forget  a lot of things , important things sometimes , but some things won’t ever be forgotten . Funny how that works .

……………CARNIVAL . CHRISTMAS IS FOR GIVING SO WE’RE GIVING A CARNIVAL .  O.K. , the missing word is CARNIVAL . It was right on the tip of my tongue . Please review the evidence shown below . Apparently , I was the one who  scrawled the ghost-written words onto the paper . I had forgotten that .  And there you have it .Christmas poster corpus christi 009

Christmas poster corpus christi 003

Christmas poster corpus christi 005xmas elf

6 Comments

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6 responses to “Christmas is for giving…………..

  1. Your Christmas story is too much – getting into weird fixes started at an early age for you! Merry Christmas!

  2. Funny how we remember those life-altering experiences as a child. But, I believe those somewhat innocent mistakes in judgements of our youth make us the adults we become later. I think it was a good lesson, and you learned it well.

    • Thanks for the vote of confidence , but childhood was a trauma for me ; I should say school was a trauma for me ; too much so to have learned many lessons in or out of class . I’m not complaining , though . We are who we are .

  3. Hopefully your sister was a good sport and hasn’t held a grudge all these years. Although the momentary rage was justified, except for the fact that she beat a bunch of first graders. Great story.

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