Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Not so Merry Christmas

I posted this on my other blog 12-14-05. I have killed that one so that this one may thrive.

Jingle Hells.
I think that would accurately describe it. Whether you are referring to the da-ding da-ding of the Salvation Army Bells, the high pitched rattle of a multitude of tiny little bells on Santa's sleigh, or the pitiful clink-clink of the two nickels and a penny in my pocket.

I used to love Christmas. People are generally friendlier, the air is crisp and carries the intoxicating aroma of a plethora of fireplaces (let's not forget the intoxicating effects of spiked Eggnog), and snow covers the ground in a never ending crunchy coating (and comes -very conviently - with a matching hat for your house.) All of my neighbors got together for a Christmas get together to celebrate - nothing fancy - mostly spiked Eggnog and a few pigs in a blanket; but we all celebrated the season and enjoyed our friendship. Marshmallows (pronounced: marshmellows) burning over an open fire and grotesquely twisted coat hangers decorated our neighbors house when we all departed. All of us kids would laugh and sing along with the adults in the extremely unharmonious rendition of most Christmas carols, then giggled at the grown-ups as the eggnog did it's job. By the time "The Twelve Days of Christmas" came around (this is when I asked my mom what a parsnip was and how did it get in a pair of trees?) we kids ventured into another room and tortured each other - as befitting the age. All adults groaned and stuck their faces in a cup of coffee (and who knows what else) the next morning and swore they wouldn't go back the next year, but they always did. The rest of the neighborhood kids and I never got to much for Christmas but we had a few things and we shared and play together after exclaiming how neat that was and this was and can I play with that? Favorite toys were of course secreted away into dark and mysterious cubbies and sock drawers to be silently fawned over, eventually gotten bored with and destroyed. I always wanted Christmas to last for ever.

Okay, to be honest, this in not how it happened at my house. We had a few presents under the tree, we didn't go to the neighbors house, and my idea of spiked Eggnog was Eggnog with a sprinkling of nutmeg floating across the pale, thick mass that would eventually stick together in thick brown globuals, and we didn't have snow. But that was how I imagined how Christmas was and if I looked at the Christmas decorations long enough and peered into the neighbors house hard enough, I could be a part of that. That would be my Christmas too.

Instead, I went home to a house not decorated for Christmas save for the Christmas tree that was put up among swearing and grunting from my mother (she was a single mom to my brother and I). I would watch in tortured impatience for her to saw off the bottom of the tree and soak the trunk in water overnight, then finally the next night she would manhandle it into the living room and pierce the trunk with screws from the tree stand. She would grab the carefully wrapped Christmas tree lights out of the box and wrap the tree in multied hues while exclaiming and cussing over how the lights got tangled up anyway and for me to stop trying to help 'cause I was only getting in the way. I never understood how I could get in the way when there was just two of us doing the lights. I would dance from tiptoe to tiptoe while decorating the tree. We would all lovingly caress our favorite old traditional ornaments and my brother and I would grimace over the ornaments that mom put on the tree from when we were in kindergarten. Deformed- and askew even in their deformity- she would always put them up and tell us to stop fussing about it. This whole affair was punctuated with her pausing to smoke a cigarette here and there, and they would mostly burn up in the ashtray while she tried to satisfy me fanatical urge to decorate the tree. She smoke would encircle the top the the tree - giving it it's own special wreath and eventually blurring the light slightly as the nicotine stuck to the bulbs. My brother would stand back to view the tree critically from time to time. He was older and wiser - at least I thought so at the time - and would make suggestions...do think this would be better? do you think we should...? or could we try...? In my mind helping to make the Christmas Tree that we had that year the best one we ever had.

I have two children of my own now, and I DREAD Christmas. We have an artificial tree - anything to make the holiday season go smoother, easier. I'm considering buying another one, one of the new ones with the lights already on it so I don't have to bother. I catch myself fussing at my daughter to move because she is in the way when we put on the lights, and make myself soften and let her help. She craves Christmas. She can't wait to decorate the tree. I can't wait to put it away. Everyday Christmas comes closer my stomach clenches tighter and my eyes become narrower - virtual slits by the time Christmas Eve lands on us - very handy when trying to spot a bargain at the store. I have purchased a few decorations for the house but only put them up after I have been sufficiently harassed by my "Mini Me" to put them out. The constant singing of the same Christmas Carols. If Frostie goes Thumpity - thump-thump one more time I swear I'm going to scream, and I have a couple of suggestions on what Rudolph can do with the shiny red nose.

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