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Vince Vitrano: Not For Broadcast

CHRISTMAS IS CANCELED

A CHILDHOOD MEMORY

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Some of you have asked, and I promised, so here is the story of how Christmas was canceled at my house one year.

I was 11, maybe 12 years old. That makes my brother 6 or 7, and my sister too young to be factored into this discussion. She's 10 years younger than me.

4 years separation between male siblings... well... I don't know what others would say about it, but our experience was that wasn't a very good number. Too far apart to really be effective playmates, however close enough together that I got stuck playing with my kid brother all the time. Needless to say, we didn't really get along.

For whatever reason we were having a particularly brutal holiday season. My brother and I were fighting all the time. It put a strain on the household. We just couldn't be in the same room together.

The threat that so many parents have used, was being wielded about almost recklessly, "If you don't shape up, Santa's not going to bring you anything for Christmas."

Now I was already in on the Santa secret, so that didn't bother me much. My brother, however, was terrified of the threat.

Seeing it had little effect on me, however, my parents ramped it up. "We're not going to celebrate Christmas this year if you guys don't keep it up." No Christmas? They wouldn't do that, I protested. "If you can't behave like Christian children, we're not giving gifts and then ignoring the true meaning of the holiday."

I don't know if I didn't believe it, or just couldn't help myself. My behavior did not change.

So it's a Saturday afternoon just days out from Christmas, and my brother and I are playing together in the basement. It was probably Lego's. I don't recall exactly what the fight was about, however we had frequent disagreements during our Lego playing. Nick would make these ridiculous creations using all the coveted, best pieces in our Lego stash. Then he'd get all bent out of shape when I dismantled his piece of crap because I needed the parts. It was probably a fight over that.

Nonetheless, it was on. I had him full head-locked and was pounding on him. He's slapping at me, and squealing like a stuck pig. I'm hollering at him full blast. Until we heard the footsteps.

We had hardwood floors in the old house in Tosa, so you could really hear every move upstairs. In this case the steps were heavy, and deliberate. They advanced to the basement door with purpose. It was my dad.

We froze, as I recall it, still locked partially in battle positions.

The door creaked as it opened, and his voice echoed down the basement stairs and through the hall.

"Hey you guys! No Christmas! F*&$ you!"

Yeah that's right. The old man dropped an F-bomb on his kids while canceling the birth of Christ.

Heretofore Joe Vitrano really been on the periphery of the threats to drop the gift exchange, etc. from our holiday plans. He didn't handle a lot of the day to day discipline. If you heard from him, you were in trouble, and we were.

"AHHHHHH! Oh no! Oh no!" My brother instantly began wailing. "We're not getting any presents. We're not getting any presents!"

I believe I tried to reassure him. What did I know? The old man had finally snapped.

I'm guessing it wasn't us directly that put him over the edge. I don't think the fighting bothered my dad much. We could have tore each other's arms off for all he cared. It really drove my mom, nuts though. I'm guessing having failed to find an effective fight suppressant message, my mom finally leaned on my dad to fix it. So he did.

Well, I'm not sure he did. It was a pretty quiet couple days after that, but I know my brother and I went back to pounding each other after the holidays. As for Christmas having been canceled, well, we still went to church and to the relatives, but there weren't a lot of presents. It was a subdued holiday.

None of us realized it at the time, but really my dad had given me one of the greatest Christmas gifts of all time... an unbeatable story to tell that's guaranteed to get laughs.

Merry Christmas. I'm back on the 26th.

emails: vvitrano@todaystmj4.com

 

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