The Christmas Miracle by Rebecca Curtis, 2013
The magic trick:
Using a narrator who is extremely self-aware and extremely oblivious at the same time
I started posting Christmas stories for December on the SSMT site as a way to collect some warm, cozy, good will for your holiday reading pleasure. I don’t mean this to sound original as if I thought I was on the brink of some groundbreaking thing. Christmas stories in December. What a concept. No. I just thought it might be nice.
I should have known better.
Most of the Christmas stories out there are painfully sad. Even the ones with good hearts make you cry. So, my apologies for the lack of warm, cozy, good will.
Today’s story, “The Christmas Miracle” may be our best example yet of a Christmas story that will chill you to your bones.
And I love it.
This is an amazing story.
I’ve featured stories before where I said everything seems slightly askew. Well, in this one, everything seems more than slightly askew. Things are toppling the scales of normalcy. But it’s not overwhelming, nor does the tone or narrative voice feel “super-weird” for show. It’s just the reality of the story.
This becomes crystal clear early on when the narrator (addressing, as she does the entire story, a mysterious “K”) describes her uncle quite bluntly as a pedophile. She then pulls back from the story to consider her method of telling, saying, “I know too, K, that you cringe whenever I mention the pedophile thing, and feel that it should not be placed in any story, because it overwhelms it and is too terrible for words.”
The mood is established. This is going to be a manic ride. Uncomfortable to say the least. Highly self-aware. Yet not self-aware at all.
Very original stuff. And that’s quite a trick on Curtis’s part.
Everyone slumped in the living room. Our uncle asked who wanted to go for a walk; no one did. Our mother sneezed. Our uncle said, “I guess I’ll go by myself, then!” and left. We all read—my siblings books, my mother a magazine called Real Simple. The bells’ carol played and the tree’s lights twinkled. I was reading a biography of my favorite writer, who at forty-five begged Stalin to be allowed to finish his work before he was shot by a firing squad, when we heard athump thump thump in the hall.
“What’s that?” one of my brothers said.
“I don’t know,” my sister said.
We heard shrieks and giggles.
“Jump!” a voice cried.
We entered the hall and saw that my nieces had used their old tights to affix a coyote to the bannister. It was a donkey piñata, really; but they’d glued red-brown felt to it and taped coyote ears to its head. They’d cut holes where the donkey eyes had been, and in the holes they’d taped Doritos. My elder niece dangled a cat toy on a wire and made its attractive end bounce near the Doritos. Chocolate panted and lunged at the toy madly, fatly, his belly heaving. But each time he failed to reach it and fell with a thump. Crow watched from the top of the stairs.
Adira peered at her.
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