The Christmas Miracle Spider
The 2007 Buick Rendezvous is where comfort, capability, and capacity meet. With seating for seven, it is the ideal vehicle for a family vacation.
Christmas Eve 2007 found me in a silver and black Rendezvous pointed towards Beaufort, South Carolina. My 6’0″ frame was packed into the rear, fold-up seat. My grandparents would have refered to it as the “rumble seat.” The Keller sisters, Abbi, Meredith, and Pembry sat before me, while Mr. and Mrs. Keller sat in the pilot and co-pilot positions, respectively.
Mr. Keller was easing the Rendezvous’ out of Bray’s Island Plantation towards Route 17. The windshield wipers were sweeping aside a light drizzle. Abbi and Pembry were singing along to WYKZ (“The River: 98.7 on the FM dial”), while Meredith tapped away at her Blackberry™. I was quietly taking it all in.
“Oh my gosh! Oh my gosh!”
Meredith began waving her Blackberry™ wildly.
The disturbance spread quickly, like a boulder through a muddle puddle.
“What!?! Where!?!?” Abbi asked. “Dad, turn on the light.”
“Is it big?” Mrs. Keller asked.
“Oh my gosh,” Meredith said with a shiver. “It’s huge! And hairy!”
Mrs. Keller unleashed a bloodcurtling scream, equal parts laughter and terror.
“Richard!!! I felt it! I felt it! It’s crawling up my leg! Stop the car!!!”
The Rendezvous came to a sudden stop. The women evacuated, backlit by halogen composite headlamps. The Kellers searched the vehicle high and low.
“It’s under the floor mat,” Mrs. Keller said.
“There’s no room under the floor mat,” Mr. Keller chuckled. “Besides, how would it get there so quickly after Meredith flicked it from her Blackberry™?”
“Spiders shoot webs, Richard!”
“It’s the Christmas Miracle Spider,” is said to myself.
Amidst gasps and laughs, the spectre of the spider loomed larger and larger, soon reaching tarantula-sized proportions. I kept to myself, there in the back, quietly grinning at my anonymity in the face of the unwanted guest. I secretly relished the mini-drama, itself small evidence that all families are, in fact, created equal.
“C’mon,” Mr. Keller said. “Let’s get back in the car. We’re late for our reservations.”
The Rendezvous began creeping forward. Calm began to settle. Meredith turned on the overhead light to browse her iPod.
“It’s on the ceiling!!!” Abbi screamed.
As I reached up to destroy the object of our terror — a hapless, generic arachnid no larger than a thumbtack — Mr. Keller’s right hand struck the decisive blow. He rubbed the spider into the vinyl, gathered up the remains, and tossed them out the window.
“There,” he said.
* * *
In the small hours of Christmas Eve morning, as the Kellers slept hours before The Christmas Miracle Spider Incident, I tiptoed around the rental hanging short strands of white lights, and red chrome Christmas balls. Later, as the second pot of coffee brewed, I pulled on my boots, grabbed the biggest knife in the drawer, and felled a three foot swamp pine in the back yard.
A funny thing happened in my rush to characterize Christmas as a crass, capitalist, logistical nightmare. A surprise occured as I overidentified one heartbreaking afternoon in 1980 with every one to follow.
Somewhere between New York City and Sheldon, South Carolina, between chalking my family up to dysfunction, and rabidly crafting and collecting gifts for my precious nephews, I found the Christmas spirit, alive and well and laughing along with The Kellers in a silver and black Buick Rendezvous in the rain.