My friend, Doris, and I were reminiscing about holidays past. "I think I was about twelve when we borrowed a friend's camper and set off to have a different kind of Christmas in Florida," she said. "We were so excited, all seven of us; it was our first big trip out of state. We stopped to exchange greetings and gifts with my aunt before hitting the highway." Doris pointed at me with her spoon while she talked. "As we drove out of my aunt’s driveway, I noticed the wide toothed grin on my aunt's face. She waved and shouted, 'I hope something goes wrong.' My dad slammed the brakes, and my mother yelled, 'what kind of person wants us to have an accident?' Dad got out of the station wagon and demanded an explanation. My aunt threw her hands in the air and shook her head. 'Nothing big', she said, 'I wish you no real harm but if nothing goes wrong, it won’t be an adventure.' My father shook his head and my mother grumbled. I started to wonder about what could go wrong."

Doris took a spoonful of her soup and made a face. She put the spoon down and continued, "I didn't have to wonder for very long though." She went on to describe their first night out. They pulled into a campsite near Nashville only to find it full. The next place they stopped was also full. It was getting late, and hope of finding an opening dwindled. They were grateful for the good graces of a gas station owner who allowed them to camp out on his lot for the night.

"Well." Doris's eyes had a far away dreamy look as she continued her story. "There were other things that went wrong too. I got a terrible sunburn from overdoing the beach scene. Every time something went wrong, we laughed and thought of my aunt's parting remark. The really big thing was when my dad rented a small sailboat and took my brothers with him. Being the amateur sailor he was, dad got out too far from shore and had to be rescued by the coastguard."

"The best part," Doris' face lit up as she went on. "The best part was what my little sister did. She was nine at the time. We all went to bed on Christmas Eve minus a Christmas tree, and gifts. The trip itself was the gift we had agreed to accept in lieu of the usual tradition. But, much to our surprise, when we woke up on Christmas morning, there was a home made cardboard tree sporting paper ornaments with a gift for each of us under it. She, my little sister, never owned up; just said, 'Santa must have done it.' She even feigned surprise and delight when she opened the gift with her own name on it." Doris smiled, "We all knew it was her."

Doris looked thoughtful for a moment. "I guess you remember the good things too. Maybe it's just the unexpected things that you remember best."

 —M. LaCourt

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Marilyn LaCourt

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