December 13, 2023
When my writing group met last month, we were asked to write a Christmas story for this meeting. I had written a short memoir about Christmas several years ago and thought I would just share it with our members. I wanted to focus on my fourth novel. But…this bizarre story popped into my mind. I tried to ignore it, but it wouldn’t go away. Subconsciously, I guess I wanted to prove to I can write something other than historical fantasy. LOL
Christmas Day – Age 13
This is Tina. Well actually my name is Christina, but my parents call me Chris which I really dislike. My troubles began about six months ago. You could say it started with the onset of puberty. Suddenly, I craved carbs. Cake. Donuts. Pies. Potatoes in any form. I went from slightly plump to a tubby blob within weeks.
Yesterday was the worst one ever. Mom spent all day rolling out dough, lathering it with melted butter, then spreading a mixture of cinnamon and brown sugar. Expecting ten people for breakfast, she made three large pans of sweet rolls, two loaves of raisin bread, and a coffee cake. The aroma of it baking made my mouth water. Irresistible! I snuck out of bed last night. I was only going to have one roll. Nibbling, one led to another, then another. Before I realized what I had done, every delectable bite was gone!
Mom’s tear-streaked, disappointed face told the story. She didn’t chastise me. Instead, she said, “What can I do? How do I feed thirteen people in an hour?”
“How about your delicious baked apple pancakes?” I rummaged in the fridge for the bag of McIntoshes. “There’s enough here for that. I’ll peel and slice while you make the batter.”
Christmas breakfast was awkward, though Mom didn’t tell them what I’d done. It was our relatives’ comments that upset me. Each one saying, “My, you’ve really put on weight,” as they hugged me. I did not need to be told this! How cruel of them to make such a remark.
We attended church after everyone left. Once home, I sat on the floor next to the decorated tree and broached a subject that had bothered me for months. “Mom, Dad, why am I so different? The other kids tease me. Why don’t I look like either of you?”
Dad is 6 feet 4 inches with sandy brown hair and green eyes. Mom is almost as tall with straight brunette hair and hazel eyes. Curly platinum hair with blue eyes, I stand at less than 5 feet.
Dad looked at Mom then cleared his throat. “You’ll soon have a growth spurt. I was only a little over your size when I started high school. I suggest you ignore their teasing, and they’ll soon stop.”
Mom only nodded. Diary, they are good people, but I just don’t fit in. Today is my birthday, and I hoped for more. More of what I cannot say.
Independence Day – Age 14
I am so confused. Nothing seems to make sense. My voice has deepened and sometimes cracks. While I have grown, it was only three inches taller and not any slimmer. Mom gave me an electric razor to shave my legs when my menstruals began last year. But now my cycles have stopped. Today, I used the razor, not on my legs, but on my face! Afraid my long facial hairs would be visible by the light of the fireworks.
I moved all of my dresses to the rear of the closet today. I much prefer wearing baggy sweatshirts and jeans. I guess I had better learn to like the name Chris!
Writing in you seems such a girlish thing to do. Today, Mom took me to a specialist who described me as an intersex. The female doctor suggested hormone shots, but I don’t want to be subjected to those. So, I guess I must resign myself to being a boy named Chris.
Labor Day – Age 16
I avoid my classmates as much as possible, even eating my lunch inside the janitor’s closet. Sophomore year has been even worse than last year. Last week, I asked Mom and Dad if I could be homeschooled, but they refused. They don’t understand the cruel taunting I receive every day. I hate it here!
Books have become my best friend. I go on many adventures through them. Men have kept journals for ages, so this isn’t really a girlish thing to do, and you’ll be coming with me.
Yes, it’s time for me to venture forth. Something is calling me northwest. Every day the need grows more urgent. I’ve stuffed my backpack with black-and-red-checked flannel shirts, two pairs of wool socks and boxer shorts, plus additional overalls. Yesterday, I bought steel-toed hiking boots. I have saved over $2,000. Hope this is enough to get me wherever I need to go. Thankfully, I could get a NEXUS card to enter Canada using my driver’s license. Unlike a passport, I didn’t need my parents’ permission. They don’t understand and I guess they never will. The disparity in our looks has increased, and I now think they are not my biological parents.
I bought a throw-away cell phone for any emergency. All that’s left for me to do is write a note to them. I’ll sneak out after they’re asleep.
I rode a bus from Fargo to Winnipeg yesterday. The border guards accepted my card without any question. I arrived there mid-morning and was surprised by the size of this city. Though it wasn’t yet lunchtime, the crowded streets made me decide to continue my journey. I took another bus and got off in Neepawa. Small enough, it looked a promising place to remain for a day or week, then I’ll head north again.
I’ve heard, “parley-vous Français?” so many times since I entered Canada that I went to Walmart today and bought a tablet. When I returned to the hostelry, I downloaded the Duolingo app because it was free. I spent three hours using it and love its game-like aspect. I’ve changed my mind and will remain here several weeks, so I can learn more French.
I asked the desk clerk about internet service in rural areas. He said, “Strigo Mobile is probably the best one.”
I checked online and liked their information, so I ordered a SIM card and mobile device which should arrive here in two days. I purchased their yearly prepaid plan too. Then went back to Walmart and splurged on a better android phone. Now I must curb my spending before I need to find a job.
I haven’t shaved in over three weeks. I think my beard makes me look older. After binding my breasts, I loaded my belongings into my backpack then departed. Before leaving Neepawa, I invested in a black cattleman’s hat, bedroll, and tent.
I followed Route 5 north then west. Nature’s beauty abounded during days of Indian summer. Red and gold leaves shook and fell with the breeze. Chittering squirrels gathering acorns were everywhere I looked. After several days of walking while using Duolingo, I reached Saskatoon.
Tomorrow, I’ll follow 16 northwest. If I can reach Edmonton before the snows, maybe I’ll be able to land a job.
No luck working at any of the ski resorts. Not even as a waiter. One manager took pity on me and suggested I apply at the large mall. I did and accepted a position as the department store Santa.
Christmas Day – Age 17
I’ve been too busy to write anything here. I truly enjoyed participating in the parade on November 18th. When was the last time I liked being among other people? I honestly can’t say.
I’m so glad I took time to learn French because I was able to understand each child’s wish when they sat on my lap. I like this city. People are friendly and accepting. Is this what happiness feels like? Never in my life did I dream that I’d enjoy being Chris Kringle! It’s been a wonderful experience. This place feels like a pair of warm, fuzzy socks. So comfortable!