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Advent Calendar 2016

2nd Sunday of Advent | Day 4 | Advent Calendar

Demented Christmas Memories and Furniture Polish by S.D. Gates

It’s funny the things you remember from your childhood, strange memories that you don’t really share with anyone because they are just so whacky and odd.  I have several that always stick in my mind, and one that particularly disturbs me, every time I smell lemon Pledge (the furniture polish) or think about Christmas.  And you might be wondering how on earth could this be applicable to Solveig’s Advent Calendar posts.  Hang on, and I shall tell you.

Back in December of 1968, when I was just a little girl, we were living in Lexington Kentucky.  We had recently moved all the way across the world from Australia, so my Dad could study moonrocks.  I suspect I might have been experiencing some angst because of the massive cultural readjustment, having moved from a suburb of Sydney, being accustomed to Kangaroos, Aborigines, and meat pies to a land of bluegrass, horses, and salads with marshmallows.

We lived in a quaint brick house on Shawnee Avenue.  It was a nice little house, with a huge backyard, that overlooked rolling fields of the greenest grass (or was it tobacco-this part is a bit muddled) I had ever seen.  I went to a public school, in Lexington, which was a bit of a shock, after having attended an exclusive boarding school in the Blue Mountains of Australia.  In the afternoons, I would come home on the bus, running most of the way, in order to avoid Butch, the bully who lived down the street. From what I remember, we had a cleaning lady, who would meet me when I arrived home.

She always had the television on, when I came home.  She loved her soap operas, I always thought she was saying soap “boppers” when she was talking about her “stories” – she had a thick southern accent which was difficult for me as a little Australian girl to decipher.  He favorite show, however, was “Dark Shadows”.  I think she might have coordinated the timing of her cleaning the living room with this show, just so she could watch it.

I am sure we had the shiniest, cleanest television in all of Lexington.  She would spray lemon Pledge all over it (it was a big wooden cabinet television that sat on the floor, with knobs to change the channels, and rabbit ear antennae).  She busily polished that television, stopping to stand in front of the television when a gripping part of “Dark Shadows” came on.

On the afternoon in question, she was watching “Dark Shadows”, which was a popular TV series back then, about vampires and all kinds of creepy things.  Even the theme song was scary.  It was Christmas eve.  The episode was about a man who changed into a werewolf whenever there was a full moon. He was hiding in the woods outside a large mansion. The residents of the house knew he was nearby, because they could hear him growling in the woods surrounding the house. I think that was the scariest part, knowing he was out in the woods ready to pounce. He bashed his way into the house through a window and went into a rampage, attacking the residents.  It was horrifying to me.  I was petrified watching this gruesome, hairy man, with big teeth, flinging himself about, running after people, gnashing his teeth and growling.  Our cleaning lady was also taken aback by all of this, and stopped her polishing, to stand in front of the TV, as she watched the scenes unfold, whispering “Oh Lordy, Lordy” over and over again.

Later that night, I was sent off to bed. The “Dark Shadows” episode had been forgotten, or so I thought it had. I was so excited, because it was Christmas Eve, and Santa would be coming to our house, bringing all kinds of presents.  The present I wanted most, was an Easy Bake Oven, that came with little cake pans, and cake mixes and according to the commercial, one could make all kinds of beautiful tasty treats.  That was the one thing I really wanted. I went to sleep dreaming about decorating cakes and more importantly, eating the cakes.

Sometime, during the night, I was awoken by a sound outside my window.  I quietly climbed out of bed to go the window, to see if maybe it was Santa and his reindeer.  I had hoped with all my heart, that it was the little bells around the necks of the reindeer, jingling through the cold, winter air that had awoken me from my slumber.  But it wasn’t.  What woke me up was a low, guttural, growling sound, which seemed to be coming from the base of the tree outside my window.  And in my horror, I knew it was not Santa, but the werewolf.  Santa doesn’t growl, he goes “Ho-Ho-Ho”. I peeked from behind the curtains to get a good look at what or who was cause of this sound and I saw him. I could swear to you, even today, that what I saw was a hairy, horrific man, with the large fangs, staring up at me.  His beady eyes stared directly at me, and he threw back his head and howled, a long, lonely, harrowing howl.  I bolted away from the window, and flung myself back into bed.  For the remainder of the night, I waited for the sounds of crashing glass and splintering wood to herald his arrival into our house, where he would most assuredly tear my beloved family members apart.

I didn’t sleep a wink that night.  I had visions of that horrible werewolf creeping down the chimney and entering the house that way.  I recall that night, the night before Christmas of 1968, as being one of the longest nights of my life.

Thankfully, the sun rose the next day, Christmas Day, and the werewolf was no longer at the base of the tree outside my bedroom window. My family members arose from their beds with all their limbs intact, and the presents were under the tree.  I was so relieved that Santa had come to our house safely, and had not been a werewolf in disguise.

I did not get an Easy Bake Oven.

Every time I smell Lemon Pledge, in some demented type of a Pavlovian response, I think back to that night.

Until now, I have never, ever relayed this warped Christmas memory to anyone.


Note from author:

I have come late to this world of writing, but do so enjoy it, especially the blogging aspect of it (where I have met the most wonderful blogging “friends” like Solveig).  I have written two books “From Cornflakes to Eternity” and more recently published “A – Z Survival Guide to Life”.  I am so grateful Solveig has asked me to participate in her “Advent Calendar” again this year.  After this warped post, I am not so sure she will be so willing to invite me to guest post again next year.

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