Skip to content

Reindeer poo all in the front yard.

December 6, 2012
Fake snow falls on the Oak Ridge Boys.

I figured I somehow should thank my parents for generously financing Ryan’s and my wedding. Naturally, I took them to the Oak Ridge Boys’ Christmas concert in Hiawassee, Georgia, last weekend. Because I logged onto the Georgia Mountain Fair website five minutes before seats went on sale, hitting refresh until I could purchase tickets, I nabbed the middle front pew. Yes. The seating at Anderson Music Hall, the largest venue on the fairgrounds campus, comprises retro green carpeted pews. (The pit contains long rows of uncomfortable metal chairs.)

my parents and me at the Oak Ridge Boys Christmas concert

I grew up listening to the Oak Ridge Boys’ 1982 Christmas album on Mother’s record player, so my decision to support the band’s Christmas Times A-Coming tour was strategic. I worried that the crowd would stress Daddy out, but he sang “Elvira” and “Silent Night” in perfect rhythm and pitch. The fake snow, digital fireplace, and cameo appearance by Santa Claus heightened my nostalgia, forcing me to think about former holidays spent at my grandparents’ house, boinging sideways on my pogo stick until falling down the hill, and riding my new bike down the driveway only to slam into Daddy’s truck and bruise my mons pubis.

a hardcore Oak Ridge Boys fan

After performing their billboard hit “Thank God for Kids,” the Oak Ridge Boys invited all the children to gather at the stage to visit with Santa. The band members also sat in Cracker Barrel rocking chairs in front of the digital fireplace to share holiday stories from childhoood. The night felt like a trippy variety show more than a concert.

During the two-hour drive to Hiawassee, I asked my parents at what age they discovered Santa Claus doesn’t exist.

“Whatchyoo talkin’ about?” Daddy yelled from the back seat. “They IS a Santa Claus! We have to leave the door unlocked so Santa can get in at night.”

“Why?” Mother asked.

“Because the chimney’s blocked. Reindeer poo all in the front yard…”

I cackled while Mother rolled her eyes, focusing her attention on Zell Miller Parkway.

I expect the upcoming holiday to pan out happier than the last. Around this time in 2011, Mother and I refused to believe Daddy could have Alzheimer’s disease, clinging desperately to the original depression diagnosis.

“I’m afraid,” Daddy said — one of the last fully cognizant statements he made before drifting away.

On Christmas Eve last year Daddy insisted that we ride to a nearby neighborhood to check out the hillbilly lights in people’s yards. Timber’s friend Bing from Taiwan joined us, unaware of Daddy’s mental condition. A line of cars already had formed in front of the most popular yard, coasting at less than five miles per hour. A manger scene glowed from the top of the hill looking down upon electrical chaos: Santa and his reindeer blinked on and off in different positions, feigning animation; snowmen made of flimsy cloth flapped unstable in the wind; sparkling dolphins arced over a blow-up ocean — all with Jenny Lewis’ “Sing a Song for Them” blaring from my iPod. While I floated past a waving jumbo Snoopy wearing a festive scarf, I wanted to stay in slow motion; I knew something was seriously wrong with Daddy and would rather spin in place between denial and acceptance.

Poor Bing probably interpreted Christmas as a quiet, somber holiday.

We’ve had a year to digest reality. And I know a thousand other families are coping with their unique shit — a recent loss or the knowledge this is the last holiday they will spend with an ill loved one.

I see nothing wrong with escaping reality this Christmas, or at least not thinking about it. And instead of playing a melancholy Jenny Lewis song as we ride past tacky Christmas lights, we definitely should crank up the Oak Ridge Boys.

3 Comments leave one →
  1. Timber permalink
    December 14, 2012 6:32 pm

    I hope we’re really going to listen to the Oak Ridge Boys! It’s been a while, and I miss it. I wish I could have attended the concert with y’all!

    • December 14, 2012 6:44 pm

      Let’s crank that shit up! Yeah, I wish you could have gone with us, too, to experience not only the Oak Ridge Boys but also the venue.


  1. I’m dreaming of a purple Christmas. « Hot Dog Beehonkus

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: