Somewhat of a Christmas Miracle

Uncle Barney had Brillo-y hair he dyed a yellow that isn’t found in nature and a matching handlebar mustache he waxed and curled and kept touching with such fondness that people sometimes looked away. Aunt Myrtle said if he’d spent as much time touching her as he did that damn mustache, maybe they’d have had children. She said this out loud at family gatherings, which made everyone almost as uncomfortable as Uncle Barney’s mustache-fondling.

I was twelve the year Uncle Barney forgot his wax when he came to the farm for Christmas. It had never happened before, like if you forgot your false teeth or underwear. He didn’t notice until the next day when it was time to re-wax the five-inch protrusions to go to church on Christmas Eve. Then all hell broke loose — ranting and pacing and obsessive twirlings of the protrusions trying to will them into the mirror-image, C-shaped curves they would have assumed with wax. In the kitchen, Aunt Myrtle muttered, “Serves him right.” But no amount of twirling would make the sides match. The right side curved forward as if it was hitching a ride somewhere, while the left side wouldn’t hold much of a curl at all and looked as if it was trying to run away.

Uncle Barney didn’t want to go to church with us. We kids told him that God wouldn’t mind, and the Baby Jesus was too little to notice, but I don’t think he cared about heavenly judgments. He got dressed to go but then looked in the hall mirror, twirling and swearing and getting red and even adding spit, which only made the the ends droop more. Finally he gave up. “I can’t go,” he murmured to the mirror. “I just can’t go.”

And poor Aunt Myrtle, who had a new Christmas sweater she’d knitted herself with all three wise men and the gold parts in tinselly yarn that glittered a little too much, Mother said, for church-wearing, decided to stay home too. “I’ve lived with him for 50 years,” she said, “and I’ve never seen him this low,” which made us all raise our eyebrows a little, because we had been to their 45th anniversary party in October.

We didn’t see them after church. But it was nearly midnight when we got back because of a way-too-long sermon from Rev. Funkhouser who should have known better with all the extra carol singing and candle lighting and scripture reading that has to be done at Christmas, so we didn’t think anything of it.

Next morning, Mom and my other aunt, Lydia, and cousin, Rachel, whose kids are bratty and always get into my stuff, were in the kitchen making waffles and pouring orange juice and yelling to Rachel’s kids that they couldn’t open presents until after breakfast and wondering where Uncle Barney and Aunt Myrtle were because it was going on 8 o’clock, and usually they were early risers. Aunt Lydia called up the stairs twice that breakfast was ready, and once Aunt Myrtle called back that they’d be right down.

We finally sat down without them, and Dad said the special long grace that he keeps on tap for holidays, and then we heard a giggle, and there they were in the doorway. We probably wouldn’t have recognized Uncle Barney except for the Brillo-y yellow hair, because the mustache was gone. Completely gone! Nothing under his nose but a scraped-up-looking upper lip.

No one could think of anything to say, but finally Aunt Myrtle, who hadn’t smiled in her whole life, I think, looked up with this big-ass grin on her face, reached over and patted Uncle Barney, who was grinning back at her, and said, “What a lovely Christmas morning!”


Happy Holidays, everyone!

– Sarah Russell
First published in Everyday Fiction
Art source

Breaking the rules at dVerse this week, posting a flash fiction piece instead of a poem.  But it’s Christmas, and if I get coals in my stocking, it won’t be the first time…

Also posting this for Poets United’s Poetry Pantry.  Still tempting Santa to put coals in my stocking for putting prose on a poetry site…

PS. DVerse has a wonderful new anthology out.  You can order it through Amazon in time for Christmas!



69 thoughts on “Somewhat of a Christmas Miracle

      1. And you remembered it!!!!! Usually when I’m driving and come up with something, I forget everything. I may move a thing in my car to remind me and I’ll remember I moved that item as a reminder…but what I am to remember is lost!!!


      1. I learned that wonderful word awhile back. Roy and I take the dog to a woodsy park every day, and when I learned shinrin-yoku, I suddenly knew why it was so important.


    1. Thanks so much. Coloring outside the poetry lines… I taught a class in flash this fall and really got back into the genre. I can’t think in chunks longer than flash though. Happy holidays to you too!


    1. Thanks so much, Kim. Hope you can stay cheery during this season. It’s one of those times when we should slow down when the world keeps telling us to speed up to get everything done. Deep breaths! (I have to take this advice too.). Merry Christmas!

      Liked by 1 person

  1. Sarah! This is ABSOLUTELY Wonderful! I am laughing my head off, and scaring the cats.

    I needed this, darling. What a Classic!!! My father, in the 70’s had a mustasche….and used wax. He looked like a Hungarian Elf….if there is such a thing. Actually there are these ‘monsters’ at Xmas time …furry things with horns….and they run around villages scaring the chickens and small children and get sausages from townsfolk. THAT is what he reminded me of. Your story is so wonderful.

    Thank you, dear heart and Merry Christmas.

    Love, Jane


    1. Thanks so much, Jane. I think those horned things are called Grampuses aren’t they? They are truly scary. I saw a parade of them on Facebook and was glad I wasn’t raised with the tradition. I’d still be having nightmares if I saw them as a kid! Glad I made your day. Merry Christmas!


  2. That’s making nogg out of runny eggs! Why is it that church bells ring when moustachios disappear? Thanks for supplying what versicles can only freeze. (PS- My wife and I saw “Murder on the Orient Express” this past weekend and Kenneth Branagh’s wraparound Poirot moustache was the star of the movie.)


    1. Thanks, Brendan. Do you think the church bells were really for disappearing moustachios? A brilliant observation! “Murder” is on our must-see list this Christmas. I’ve heard nothing but good things about it. Merry Christmas to you and yours.


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