A Parenting Carol

 

by Gary Drevitch

(C) 2005 Nick Jr. Family Magazine

NICK JR Magazine Dec. 2005/Jan. 2006

 

Tiny Tim could not tie his shoes, to begin with. And so, as he ran around the kitchen, poking his sister, little Fan, each time he passed, he often stumbled on his laces and flopped on the floor. When he tired of this, he overturned the bathroom wastebasket, placed it upon his head, and leapt across the living room from couch to armchair and back until he crashed into the TV, nearly knocking himself out.

"Look at him!" Bob Cratchit, his father, said in frustration. "Where does he learn these things?"

"When he goes to kindergarten, he’ll surely be sent home on the first bus," said his mother, Molly.

"Or worse–we’ll be held up to public ridicule as woefully inadequate parents!" Bob said.

The Cratchits could not know they were being observed by a mysterious spirit, who resolved to return on that very night, Christmas Eve.

Indeed, as the clock struck one, the Cratchits were awakened by an eerie presence. "I am the Ghost of Christmas Past!" said the figure before them. "Arise. Take my hand!"

Never having met a spirit before, the Cratchits thought it wise to do as he said. They were immediately transported to a busy hospital emergency room. A tearful 3-year-old girl sat beside a grim-faced man.

"That’s me–and my father!" Molly cried out. "Dad, I’m here!"

"No one can see or hear you," said the ghost. "It’s Christmas Eve 1974, and you’ve been here three hours. But never fear, that Sugar Pop will be out of your nose by midnight."

And so the night went on, as the ghost led the Cratchits on a tour of their childhoods:

New Year’s Day, 1976: Five-year old Bob jumps on his bed shouting "Dyn-o-mite!" to celebrate an entire year of eating nothing but bologna sandwiches with artificially flavored fruit drink for dinner, until the motion–and the bologna–get the best of his belly and his Fat Albert blanket has to be sent to the junkyard.

August 20, 1977: Molly’s little brother comes home to find all of his Star Wars action figures missing their heads. "Chewbacca did it with his light saber! He must have gone crazy!" the 7-year-old girl swears.

"I remember that!" Molly said. "I laughed for a week!"

"And your brother cried just as long," the ghost said.

October 1, 1979: Once again, 9-year-old Bob tells his mother, "I dunno. Stuff," when she asks what he did in school that day.

That night, his mother says, "What will become of Bob?"

"Who knows?" his father responds, peering over his paper from his plaid recliner. "He’s still the only one in his class who can’t tie his shoes!"

By now, the Cratchits had seen enough. "Take us back, Spirit! We’ve learned our lesson! We were no better than Tim! Starting tomorrow, we’ll change our ways!"

And just like that, they were home, shaken but none the worse for wear. The next day, they rose early and roused the children.

"Children, get dressed! We’re going outside, to the town square!"

And they marched to the town square among the other holiday revelers. "This is our son, Tim!" Molly and Bob cried. "He can’t tie his shoes, he pokes his sister, and he puts wastebaskets on his head and crashes into things! And we love him!"

As the good people of the town cheered, Molly said, "Bless you, Tiny Tim! And bless you, little Fan!"

"Yes, bless us! Merry Christmas!" Tiny Tim said, just before he tripped on his laces, landed on the ice, and slid headfirst into a lamppost.

 

Gary Drevitch is a New York  writer and produces the Web site freelancedad.com.