My husband used to work in a manufacturing plant, and often didn't get Christmas off, which would mean we couldn't travel to be with our families. One year when he was scheduled to work Christmas Day, we found out that our friends Carol and Kurt were also without any particular festive plans. Their son was in the military and couldn't come home for the holiday. So we decided to get together, the four of us, to celebrate.
Carol and Kurt came over to our house, bringing food - I seem to recall, among other things, chocolate-covered caramel corn. We decided to watch a movie. Years earlier, another friend had given me a set of 1930s Universal Studios horror movies on DVD, an opening-night present for Theatre Unbound's production of Frankenstein Incarnate. We four Christmas castaways looked through the set and decided on The Invisible Man, with Claude Rains.
By some unaccountable alchemy, it turned out to be exactly what we were all in the mood for. I remember all of us being delighted by the tactics used to put out a dragnet for the Invisible Man (no spoilers here. Watch the movie).
I can't imagine anything further from a greeting-card, storybook Christmas, but to this day it's one of my happiest Christmas memories. People sharing what they have, gratefully enjoying each other's company, and making some light in the winter darkness.
Anne Bertram is Dramaturg for Theatre Unbound's A Gertrude Stein Christmas, devised by the ensemble from Stein's play "Turkey and Bones and Eating And We Liked It," premiering at the 2018 Minnesota Fringe. Get your tickets now!