Today I did something that made my Christmas. Every year, like many moms, I end up mega-stressed with all of the decorating, the shopping, the commitments, the hectic pace of the holidays. And years like this one, when my freelance work isn’t bringing in the big bucks, have the added financial stress. We’ve been sick this week, survival mode is beginning to set in, and it’s only December 4! And although I know I shouldn’t worry about keeping up with the Joneses, I’m always wondering how our Santa visits compare to other families’. It’s enough to give me a migraine. Maybe I need to go see that shrink on the Geico commercial, “why don’t we chuck on over to namby pamby land! And we’ll get you some self-confidence, ya jackwagon” and then he would throw the Kleenex box at me. I love that guy.
So today, in the midst of it all, our family went to see “A Little House Christmas” at the Legacy Theatre in Tyrone, and it has already made my holiday.
As a little girl, my favorite tv show was “Little House on the Prairie.” I watched it every week, back in the days when cartoons were only on tv on Saturdays and DVDs were nonexistent. I begged my mom to make me a Laura Ingalls dress and wore my hair in braids. I watched it until she was married to Almanzo (what kind of name WAS that?) and there were those extra random kids, like Jason Bateman…I wonder if the tv folks made that part up? Anyway, I was their #1 fan, and I may have been more excited about the play than my kids were.
It was our first time to the Legacy (www.thelegacytheatre.org), and for a small local theatre, I was impressed. Tickets were only $10 each, an affordable family outing compared to the high prices at the Fox or elsewhere. The set and costumes were really good, and the actors were great and acted and looked true to their parts, especially Nellie- she was the perfect mix of prissy, bitchy, and just plain mean as a snake. I hadn’t thought about Little House in years, and hadn’t remembered their Christmas stories in decades. One thing I remembered from the show was that they got an orange, a peppermint stick, and a shiny penny in their stocking. As a kid, I thought they were royally ripped off, as compared to my stocking overflowing with artificially flavored candy and little toys Made In China. As an adult, I love the simplicity of it.
After they throw a Christmas party with their friends and family, there is a bad rain storm and the bridge near their Little House is washed away. Since the bridge connects them to town, Ma and Pa explain to the girls that Santa might not make it this year, because he had left their gifts in town. Sure enough, there were no gifts from Santa Christmas morning, but the girls make homemade gifts for Ma and Pa. They make the best of it. And then, good ol’ Mr. Edwards shows up! Turns out, he had run into Santa in town and brought their gifts to them! Their gifts were…get ready… coats. The girls were thrilled. They oohed and aahed over how nice they were. They appreciated the value of the coats in the cold winters of Minnesota. Can you imagine a time like that? When I think of the true value of most of the stuff I give my kids, it’s pretty pathetic. Many of the plastic toys break, clothes are cheaply made and last a season, but hey, at least they are affordable. That is the price we pay for modern life, I guess.
Mr. Edwards was awesome, and I remember thinking he was the coolest guy when I was a kid. They ended up having a nice Christmas morning with a simple meal, Pa on the fiddle, and decorating the tree. They knew what really mattered, in Laura Ingalls Wilder’s words, “love, kindness, being with friends and family, and just being good.” In that theatre, I imagined my heart growing three sizes like in the Grinch. And I realized, screw the Joneses, it’s the other true friends like Mr. Edwards and our families that count. Armed with that revelation and a focus on keeping it simple, I just might survive the holidays.