A Lost Shoe And A Lesson From Santa Claus

A Lost Shoe And A Lesson From Santa Claus

My parents are straight-up gangsters.
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Once upon a time, Christmas morning dawned just as it was expected to do so. My four sisters and I flooded into my mom’s and dad’s bedroom, all of us ready to besiege them, plead with them, and beseech them to wake so we could fall upon our respective piles of presents with the energy and fervor of starved cannibals with a taste for blood. My mother and father, barely clocking in three hours of sleep, eventually responded to the gaggle of us. They ordered us to our positions at the top of the stairway as they slowly (and surely begrudgingly) exited the blankets.

With a discipline Captain Von Trapp would approve of, my sisters and I filed from oldest to youngest (that was me) at the top of the stairs. Meanwhile my father made his way downstairs to ensure that Santa had visited. Really, he turned tree lights on, snuck a bite of a cookie, sipped some milk, and turned on the coffee pot.

“Looks like Santa was here after all,” my father would send up the stairs to our impatiently eager ears. That was it. Our green light. The pistol shot marking the beginning of race down the stairs.

My sisters and I shot down the stairs, careened around the landings with a proficiency to which Olympic bobsledders aspire, and scrambled over one another in pursuit of the Christmas Tree’s glow and the gifts a certain red-suited obese man had surely left behind. Skidding to a halt, however, I noticed four mounds of gifts, not five, none of which were labeled for me. Nestled between two colossal stacks of presents, however, rested a measly pile consisting of a rather diminutive and unexciting looking box, a standard mailing envelope, and a burlap sack.

Before I tell you what I found in the box, envelope, and burlap sack, allow me to deviate from chronological storytelling in a manner befitting a Tarantino film. Let me set the clock back five or six weeks.

Walking home from school as a wee lad, I lost a shoe. Not the pair, but a single shoe. A dressier shoe I wore at Saint Mary’s Star of the Sea Catholic School. A shoe I was certain was in my backpack on the walk home because the pair was so nice and demanded being taken care of. Not sure how I lost that lone shoe, but my parents gave me hell for it. They yelled at me and punished me in ways that might provoke children of today to cry out “abuse!” They lectured me on the importance of keeping track of things, and how much of a struggle it is to afford new shoes (we were not a well-to-do family) while somehow still providing five children with a Catholic school education.

Despite the cost, I had a new pair within a couple days. The incident receded from minds as life returned to something like normalcy. With less than a month before Christmas, excitement crept its way into my thoughts. All was right in the world.

Yet, with only days remaining before Christmas vacation, I lost another shoe.

You read that correctly. I lost another shoe.

The punishment this time was far worse. Silence. That was it. Just silence. Silence and my parents’ disappointed eyes. Just thinking about it now sends pangs of guilt into the very depths of my heart and tickles my tear ducts into reflective agony.

Oddly enough, only the few days following the shoe loss were memorably stressful. Once school dismissed us for the holiday break, the entire debacle was forgotten. Or so I thought.

Remember the box, the envelope, and the sack? Let’s get back to those.

In the box was a pair of shiny new shoes, a replacement for the pair(s) made useless. In the envelope was a letter from Santa Claus, a correspondence warning me that my parents struggle enough and to take better care of my possessions. In the burlap sack was coal.

Santa gave me coal.

My parents gave me coal.

There were presents hidden behind the couch, but my loving parents allowed me to sit in tearful devastation for a time before alerting me that “Santa left you something after all.” Sources (my sisters) can’t agree on the amount of time sobs and agonizing convulsions coursed through my young body. One says only minutes passed and another swears my parents let a couple hours pass. Doesn’t matter, really. I can’t recall a single gift received that year. All I can remember is the shoes, the letter, and the coal. And the hurt.

Greatest takeaway? My parents are savages. They’re gangsters. They’re hard-lesson slinging thugs the likes of which few of us will ever know or experience.

And, in case you’re wondering, I can’t look at a pair of shoes without some mild anxiety.

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8 Reasons Why My Dad Is the Most Important Man In My Life

Forever my number one guy.
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Growing up, there's been one consistent man I can always count on, my father. In any aspect of my life, my dad has always been there, showing me unconditional love and respect every day. No matter what, I know that my dad will always be the most important man in my life for many reasons.

1. He has always been there.

Literally. From the day I was born until today, I have never not been able to count on my dad to be there for me, uplift me and be the best dad he can be.

2. He learned to adapt and suffer through girly trends to make me happy.

I'm sure when my dad was younger and pictured his future, he didn't think about the Barbie pretend pageants, dressing up as a princess, perfecting my pigtails and enduring other countless girly events. My dad never turned me down when I wanted to play a game, no matter what and was always willing to help me pick out cute outfits and do my hair before preschool.

3. He sends the cutest texts.

Random text messages since I have gotten my own cell phone have always come my way from my dad. Those randoms "I love you so much" and "I am so proud of you" never fail to make me smile, and I can always count on my dad for an adorable text message when I'm feeling down.

4. He taught me how to be brave.

When I needed to learn how to swim, he threw me in the pool. When I needed to learn how to ride a bike, he went alongside me and made sure I didn't fall too badly. When I needed to learn how to drive, he was there next to me, making sure I didn't crash.

5. He encourages me to best the best I can be.

My dad sees the best in me, no matter how much I fail. He's always there to support me and turn my failures into successes. He can sit on the phone with me for hours, talking future career stuff and listening to me lay out my future plans and goals. He wants the absolute best for me, and no is never an option, he is always willing to do whatever it takes to get me where I need to be.

6. He gets sentimental way too often, but it's cute.

Whether you're sitting down at the kitchen table, reminiscing about your childhood, or that one song comes on that your dad insists you will dance to together on your wedding day, your dad's emotions often come out in the cutest possible way, forever reminding you how loved you are.


7. He supports you, emotionally and financially.

Need to vent about a guy in your life that isn't treating you well? My dad is there. Need some extra cash to help fund spring break? He's there for that, too.

8. He shows me how I should be treated.

Yes, my dad treats me like a princess, and I don't expect every guy I meet to wait on me hand and foot, but I do expect respect, and that's exactly what my dad showed I deserve. From the way he loves, admires, and respects me, he shows me that there are guys out there who will one day come along and treat me like that. My dad always advises me to not put up with less than I deserve and assures me that the right guy will come along one day.

For these reasons and more, my dad will forever be my No. 1 man. I love you!

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The 7 Best Pieces Of Advice I Have Been Given About Life

Some of the best advice I have been given over the years...

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There isn't a central theme among these pieces of advice or sayings. They are all just random things I have been told over the course of my life–especially in the last week. I find these 7 to be particularly helpful in various situations, and try to keep them in mind when I am in over my head.

1. "Don't be afraid to advocate for yourself because there is nobody who is going to help you more than you."

You are the #1 person who can help your own case. No one knows you as you do, therefore no one will be able to help you more than you can help yourself. A lot of things are mental, so once you can convince yourself that you deserve something (whatever it may be) you can convince anyone. Another saying goes along with this, on the flip side: "No one can diminish you but yourself." You are in control of your own self-perception, and you are very much capable of being your own worst enemy.

2. "Stand behind your reputation because you can never get it back."

My mom sent this to me the other day. Be who you are, and do it proudly. Especially with meeting people for the first time, you can never have a second chance at a first impression. That being said, if people view you in a bad light, figure out why that is and fix it. You may not be able to change someones initial thoughts of you, but you can change the way they view you after that.

3. "The best things in life happen unexpectedly."

"Life is what happens when you're busy making plans," also goes along with this. Trying to plan out every little detail of your life is only going to lead to disappointment. Sometimes you find the best things/what you're looking for when you're not actually looking. Just go through the motions and things will work out the way they are supposed to.

4. "Be proud of your accomplishments, no matter how small."

It's important to celebrate the little things. Did you go to class today? Good for you. Did you decide to drink water instead of a soda? That's awesome. How are you going to work up to doing bigger and better things if you don't have anywhere to start?

5. "Whatever you're stressing about now probably won't matter in five years."

As someone who is often eaten away by their own worry and anxiety, this is a mantra that I try to constantly remind myself. While it may seem like a big deal now, you need to keep in mind the bigger picture. Will it matter in 5 hours? 5 days? 5 months? And so on. If the answer is no to ANY of these questions, it's probably not worth beating yourself up over.

6. "Stop being the 'go to' person for someone you can't go to."

Someone tweeted that their pastor said this to them and the tweet went viral. A friend of mine sent it to me, and it really made me think. Something I have struggled with over the years is making excuses for people who don't show up for me when I am constantly there for them. This is a helpful reminder that if they aren't contributing to you and your life, you shouldn't have to bend over backward to help them out and be in their lives.

7. "Two wrongs don't make a right."

While this is often a saying that parents use on their young children, it is applicable to pretty much any stage of life. My parents, especially my dad, have constantly said this, whether it was in reference to fighting with my siblings or dealing with people at school. Even as a 20-year-old, I find myself saying this when I hear about arguments and problems people are having. Everyone wants to get even, to best those who hurt them. While it's important to stick up for yourself, it is also important to be the bigger person and not stoop to their level (and whatever else your parents told you in these situations).

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