Why I Still Hate Andy Vail 74 Miserable Christmases Later

Once you hear my story you’ll hate Andy too.

Nice kid and all that, but as we walked together to 2nd grade that November morning, he suddenly transfigured into this little four-foot monster foaming and laughing scandals about the big guy in the red suit. It was only a few weeks before Christmas, and I was one more blond-haired kid waiting for his Red Ryder Rifle. Even though Mom panicked about poked-out-eyes, I was sure Santa would come through.

But not after Andy’s historic epiphany…! Not after he viciously turned on me with the Big Secret…!

I couldn’t believe it. I wouldn’t believe it. But the little jerk had older brothers, which meant he had a direct line to all those nickered smart alacks who used to giggle dirty jokes in the back of Sister Mary Ursala’s classroom. It was all so cruel, so wrong, so Andy.

I needn’t explain how life has never been exactly the same again. In one 10-minute trudge to school, this innocent little bundle of blond joy and rifle expectation had been body-slammed into that cold granite wall philosophers call Reality. I call it the Death-of-Wonder.

No matter Mom & Dad’s gentle explanations, nor Sister Ursala’s after-school clarifications, I knew then and there the gauze of innocence had fallen from my eyes, and the candle of imagination in my heart had started to flicker. It’s been a slippery slope ever since.

True, now I have Science and Google and Apple and scads of wiki-data from every corner of every great mind in the world. I have facts and figures, Hadron Colliders and Hubble Cameras, even digitalized histories of why Santa & Flying Reindeer don’t exist, and why Christmas and Nativity scenes aren’t in the Constitution.

What I don’t have is all that wonder which had still intoxicated my heart as I kissed Mom goodbye to catch up with Andy…

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