A Lost Shoe And A Lesson From Santa Claus

A Lost Shoe And A Lesson From Santa Claus

My parents are straight-up gangsters.

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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I'm The Girl Without A 'Friend Group'

And here's why I'm OK with it


Little things remind me all the time.

For example, I'll be sitting in the lounge with the people on my floor, just talking about how everyone's days went. Someone will turn to someone else and ask something along the lines of, "When are we going to so-and-so's place tonight?" Sometimes it'll even be, "Are you ready to go to so-and-so's place now? Okay, we'll see you later, Taylor!"

It's little things like that, little things that remind me I don't have a "friend group." And it's been like that forever. I don't have the same people to keep me company 24 hours of the day, the same people to do absolutely everything with, and the same people to cling to like glue. I don't have a whole cast of characters to entertain me and care for me and support me. Sometimes, especially when it feels obvious to me, not having a "friend group" makes me feel like a waste of space. If I don't have more friends than I can count, what's the point in trying to make friends at all?

I can tell you that there is a point. As a matter of fact, just because I don't have a close-knit clique doesn't mean I don't have any friends. The friends I have come from all different walks of life, some are from my town back home and some are from across the country. I've known some of my friends for years, and others I've only known for a few months. It doesn't really matter where they come from, though. What matters is that the friends I have all entertain me, care for me, and support me. Just because I'm not in that "friend group" with all of them together doesn't mean that we can't be friends to each other.

Still, I hate avoiding sticking myself in a box, and I'm not afraid to seek out friendships. I've noticed that a lot of the people I see who consider themselves to be in a "friend group" don't really venture outside the pack very often. I've never had a pack to venture outside of, so I don't mind reaching out to new people whenever.

I'm not going to lie, when I hear people talking about all the fun they're going to have with their "friend group" over the weekend, part of me wishes I could be included in something like that. I do sometimes want to have the personality type that allows me to mesh perfectly into a clique. I couldn't tell you what it is about me, but there is some part of me that just happens to function better one-on-one with people.

I hated it all my life up until very recently, and that's because I've finally learned that not having a "friend group" is never going to be the same as not having friends.

SEE ALSO: To The Girls Who Float Between Friend Groups

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4 Things I Wish High School Me Knew

Every day has a purpose.


People don't give high school enough credit for having the ability to shape your life. It can build you or it can break you and often times there is no in between. As I enter into my senior year of college I have reflected a lot on my college career and how it really has been the best years of my life up to this point, but I know that without a doubt my life would have been so different in I would have known these things as a high schooler.

1. Your life is valuable

But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved. And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus. - Ephesians 2:4-7

2. You aren't defined by your singleness. 

Daughters of Jerusalem, I charge you by the gazelles and by the does of the field: Do not arouse or awaken love until it so desires. - Song of Solomon 2:7

4. You aren't going to fit in

Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will. - Romans 12:2

4. Your clothes aren't going to fit forever, don't spend all of your money on them 

Then he said to them, "Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; life does not consist in an abundance of possessions." - Luke 12:15

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