Gangsta Christmas

Every morning I wake up to another sappy Christmas commercial that emotionally hijacks me and leaves me all weepy in my honey nut Cheerios. For example: the Hallmark tear-jerker that keeps replaying of the lonely soldier in Afghanistan opening up a Charlie Brown book with his little boy’s voice warbling out the Christmas story –sob, sniffle, sniffle, sob.

Enough is enough!  Instead of another blog post on the most amazing Christmas gift I’ve received, or even the most meaningful, how about a tribute to the worst Christmas Day ever?  Yessss…I knew you were in for it.

On a dismal and dreary Christmas morning about ten years ago (a rarity in sun drenched So Cal) my family and I loaded up all the gifts, pies and babies (Kyle was 4, Faith was 1) into our Expedition and with my father and step-mom closely following in the car behind us, we caravanned to the kids’ grandparents (on their dad’s side) in a nearby beach community.

On the way over we sang snowman songs and goofed around.  The roads were quiet and eerily still and we made quick time on the freeway, exited onto a road in a rather bad neighborhood (but one we drive through all the time) and continued on our way. 

All of a sudden, a car coming in the opposite direction u-turned directly in front us and screeched to a halt within inches of our stunned faces.  The kid’s daddy (Brent) threw on the brakes and my father (Papa Ken) stopped quickly behind us almost hitting us.  I looked up and saw a black Escalade hot on the heels of the junky car that had just blocked our path.

The door of the junky car flew open and a man tumbled out with a look of sheer terror on his face, never taking his eyes off the Escalade.  He darted right then jerked to the left as if he was carrying a football into the end zone then dashed across the street directly in the path of our car.  Within a nanosecond, one of the heavily tinted windows of the Escalade lowered and a hand appeared with a large ominous gun tracking the fleeing man.  The man raced across the front of our car and the gun followed his every move.

I screamed “move, move, move!” like a commando from Rambo.   Brent looked at me in confusion because he didn’t see the gun at first, then realized what was happening and quickly moved into action.

I whipped around and motioned for the kids to get down (difficult when babies are in car seats) and hollered at Brent to back the car up and get us out of there pronto.  Brent threw the car in reverse like one of the Duke’s of Hazard boys and maneuvered around Papa Ken’s car motioning like crazy for him to back up. 

The man kept running and a single shot fired off from the gun but missed him –and even more thankfully –us.  The black Escalade roared to life and took off after the man down the side street.  The junky car sat in the middle of the street abandoned, with the door wide open and blocking traffic.

Brent pulled over and we quickly called the police and choked out the incident in bursts of adrenaline.  The police asked us to come in and give them a report. 

Everyone decided it would be best to drop off the hysterical wife (namely –me) at Brent’s parent’s home with the kids and then go back to meet the cops.

I sat at the house in a trance of tremors and tears while my in-laws tried to console me but I was shaken to the core with this near brush of violence.  The last thing I expected on a merry Christmas Day was a drive-by shooting initiated by gangster thugs. 

Who shoots people on Christmas Day anyway?  And what the heck did the guy do to deserve to be hunted down like an animal?

All these thoughts swirled through my brain and then finally peace washed over me like a gentle wave.  And I knew that even in the midst of this terrible awful, I would appreciate this Christmas day like never before.  I held my babies tighter, breathed in their sweet sugary cookie smell, and enjoyed my family with an unfamiliar intensity.

I discovered on that eventful day that sometimes the best Christmas gifts are wrapped in the worst possible circumstances. 

Appreciation rarely reveals itself in the obvious; it’s subtle and generally involves suffering and trial.  And just like the soldier sitting all alone in a tent in the Middle East yearning for his family, I understood all that I had to lose in a split second.

So if your Christmas stinks this year –let it be a reminder of better times, both in the past and yet to come (Lord willing).  And relish the gift of appreciation, unconventionally wrapped, often missed but when found –deeply treasured.

(I know, I know…Halmark wants me to write for them)

What do you appreciate this Christmas?  What do you long for? Do you have a worst Christmas tale?






  1. I just discovered your blog on Blog Frog. What a story!!! Glad you all were able to get away unharmed. Experiences like that really do put things into perspective. I actually saw a woman get shot in the arm on Christmas Day. A purse snatcher jumped out of a car outside the only open drugstore in a crowded shopping center, and opened fire when he realized she wasn’t giving up her purse so easily. I had to be around six or seven years old, and it was the first time I’d ever seen a gun in front of me or witnessed such violence. And all I think we wanted were batteries. After that, getting batteries was the last thing I wanted to do.

    • Hi Claresa,
      I am such a wuss too when it comes to violence. I think it’s because I grew up mostly as an only child (didn’t have a brother or sister to fight with untill I was older). I am genuinely shocked when people are mean, evil or violent. But, as bad as that day was, I know there are many living in these tough situatons every day and it breaks my heart. thanks for stopping by and I can’t wait to check out your blog!

  2. Ugh – that is terrible! I’m sorry you had to experience that.

    I did have a run-in with the mob at Christmas a few years ago, but it was mostly amphibious and no one was injured…

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: