“105 Degrees at Christmas” By Chris Zito

As childhood disasters go, none could be worse than Santa not being able to find you on Christmas Eve. I nearly suffered this unimaginable fate during my 7th winter.

Pre-GPS Santa.

I wasn’t the healthiest little kid. I had lousy baby teeth. I was scrawny. I was prone to fevers. During December of 1967 I came down with a particularly nasty case of the flu. To me it wasn’t so bad. When you grow up in a house with five kids being sick is about the only way you get extended face time with Mom. And if you were sick long enough, even Dad would drop in with some comics books or a new toy or something.

“Which one are you again?”

Everything was going along as usual. I was turning into a time suck for Mom while my big sister picked up the slack and Dad worked. Hey, I was seven, how was I supposed to know what a wrench I was throwing into the family’s Christmas preparations? Anyway, one evening instead of reading my comic books I just sort of lay there. Mom called Dad at work, which was reserved for emergencies or informing him who needed an ass kicking when he got home. Mom told Dad that my fever had spiked to 105.
It seemed like he was home by the time she hung up the phone.
He was shouting instructions as he came in the house, mobilizing the entire family.
In minutes we were on our way to the hospital.
“We won’t be there on Christmas, will we?” I remember thinking. Looking back now, I’m sure they were just hoping I’d be somewhere at Christmas.

This is how your Dad looks when your seven.

After the doctors shot me up with antibiotics and brought down my fever they admitted me. I had pneumonia. And yes, my Dad told me the next morning, I’d be in the hospital over Christmas. “But how will Santa find me?”
I’ll never forget the smile that put on my Dad’s face. He never looked scared or worried that I remember. But I’ve been a father for over thirty years and I know how scared he must have been. And I know what it must have meant to have his sick little boy ask something so normal. My childhood greed for ever more toys  was a sure sign of recovery. Dad told me that he would let Santa know where I was, even my room number. Sure enough when I woke up on Christmas morning there was my Jerry Mahoney doll, my cowboy suit, and a few other games. And there was my Mom. Wow. Talk about extra face time!

Of course this was before Twilight Zone made all dummies seem evil.

Thanks for reading. Tell your pals.
Chris Zito


One Response

  1. sniff…sniff! Very touching!!

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