When I was in high school, all of my friends used to hang out at my house. We had a basement rec room that was fixed up, and usually had alcohol readily available. That’s going to kind of bring this whole heart-warming holiday story into focus.
All through high school, I was a tenor in chorus, and from the start of my freshman year, I always made Madrigal chorus, which was a select group of about twelve singers. We would not only perform at school functions, but also at several civic functions. One of the things that we did every year, and it was one of my favorite things, was singing at midnight mass at the Catholic church in Minonk. All of the lights in the church would be dark, and we would sing Christmas carols to candlelight. It was a very moving holiday experience.
It was my senior year in high school. On Christmas Eve, my brother was home from college, and a friend of ours, Steve Barr, who lived about a block-and-a-half away, was at my house watching TV with my brother, and they were having a couple of beers. My mom had already gone to bed, and I was abstaining from alcohol since I had to go sing at midnight mass. When it got to be about 11:30, I left to go to the church, but Stevie was still there watching TV and drinking beer with my brother.
When I got back from midnight mass about 12:45, they were still at it. But shortly after my arrival, my brother declared that he was going to bed. I kind of wanted just one or two beers, so Stevie and I decided to go downstairs to the basement rec room and listen to some tunes…and drink. I can’t remember how long we talked, what we talked about, or if we even talked at all. Maybe we just got into the music and kind of closed our eyes while listening.
The next thing I knew, I heard the phone ringing. It was kind of like when you’re dreaming, and you hear a sound, and you think it’s in the dream. That’s how it seemed to me. Finally, I woke up to find myself lying on the floor, and the phone really was ringing. I stumbled up to answer it, and soon heard Stevie’s mom on the other end of the line. “Is Steven there?” she asked. I knew that, like most kids, the full, proper name was only given when said kid was in trouble. “Um, let me check,” I managed to answer. I looked first at my watch…it was about 7 am. I then glanced in at the couch in the rec room, and there was Stevie, sound asleep. I got back on the phone and told Mrs. Barr that Steven was indeed sleeping on the couch. She responded, in a curt manner, “Will you wake him up and ask him if he wants to spend Christmas with his family?” I assured her that I would, and hung up the phone.
When I woke Stevie up and told him that it was about 7 in the morning and his mom wanted him to come home, he was off the couch and out the back door in about 2 seconds flat. I went upstairs and sat in the living room, staring outside at the snow until the rest of the family woke up to open presents.
I wonder if Bob Cratchett’s wife ever had to call someone on Christmas morning to get Tiny Tim to come home after drinking most of the night with some of his friends?
God bless us…everyone.