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Do You Remember When It Was That Christmas Started To Suck?

December 20, 2010

Yes. We wore matching outfits. Often.

I can still remember fondly the days when Christmas was still full of mystery and wonder. When I would stay up all night waiting to hear the reindeer on the roof only to fall asleep at the last possible second. For years I had this tradition where as I lay in bed I would listen to an album on my record player (yes Virginia I’m that old), that included a number of Christmas related stories including a dramatic re-telling of Twas the Night Before Christmas.

That was back in the day when I thought Santa was real. Before I knew that the guy dressed like Santa at the mall is most likely a paedophile with a drinking problem, I sat on the laps of the mall Santas and wrote letters with my wish list of gifts to an address in the North Pole. You probably aren’t surprised to know that I wasn’t the kid who asked Santa for world peace or to feed starving children. Instead I would send laundry lists of toys that I coveted. Many of them Barbie related. My boss has a Barbie Dream House outside of his office this week and more than once I’ve considered stealing it before he gets the chance to give it to his children. He should probably lock it up.

Christmas 1969

When my sister Parrish was about five or six I totally screwed her over by telling her that Santa was, in fact, our parents. I had only just found out myself, and well, I didn’t see any reason why I should suffer under the burden of this knowledge alone. It only seemed right that she too feel the pain of disappointment. Besides, she bugged the crap out of me most of the time and kinda deserved it. Yeah. I’ve always been surly.

Parrish and I on Christmas morning.

When my maternal grandparents were alive Christmas was an huge event. The production began a week early with the annual making of croquinolles, a family tradition dating back to forever. Then there was Christmas dinner which was traditionally held on December 23rd to allow the plethora of children of divorce in our family to spend Christmas eve with their other parent because Christmas day belonged to my family. No seriously. You would have thought we bought the rights. On Christmas day we would open our home to everyone we knew and some years would see upwards of 150 people make their way in and out, swigging Gin Alexanders and getting into fist fights. Christmas eve would include a trip to Baskin-Robbins with my grandfather to pick up dozens of ice cream sandwiches for the open house. This trip inevitably included the rare and elusive sighting of Santa by my grandfather. Even if we no longer believed, he apparently did and would stick to his story of having seen him flit by in the mid-day sky, with his own eyes twinkling as he would retell this tale to my grandmother when he got home. Yeah, we’re not sure how such good natured people and I share the same genetic make-up either.

Tori, me, and one of the precarious structures

Christmas morning at my grandparents house was an orgasm of consumerism. They would tend to go a little over the top and each year there was always one present that was septupled. One year it was giant purring stuffed panthers another it was Big Wheels. There were years when the presents filled not only the formal living room, but spread all the way out into the entry hall. There were always at least one item that had been put together the night before by my grandfather and usually teetered dangerously on the edge of safety. One year he put together this enormous jungle gym that was set into the concrete in the front drive. Most of the kids were too terrified to use it as the monkey bars were some 15 feet off the ground and there was no padding below. But it was the thought that counted.

Yole, Tasha and me with creepy mall Santa

As I got older Christmas started to change. Not just for me, but for most people. Prior to the 1980’s most people wouldn’t have dreamed of doing anything on Christmas day besides spending time with their families. But slowly, people I knew started going to the movies and to the theatre once the frenzy of gift opening had ended. Heck one year when I was in high school my cousin Gina and I took off and went to an all ages night club to dance and pop Quaaludes. That night erupted in gunfire and with me getting crabs, but that’s another story all together. Let’s just say not quite the Christmas day of the bygone era.

Grandpa and Me

Gift giving changed significantly too over the years. The lists I used to mail to Santa I now email to my mother and mother-in-law. I’m rarely surprised by what I find under the tree, or at least not as surprised as I was the year my ninth grade boyfriend Chris gave me a coral ring and a strip of photos of him without his pants on taken at a photo booth in the mall. He’s rich and famous now. I totally should have kept those photos. I often find that I dread Christmas shopping and put it off as long as I possibly can. The crowds in the mall and the perfume spritzers by the escalators make me queasy. The pre-packaged gift baskets that spill out of every store scream “regift me” in deafening tones. The idea that I have a list of people to whom it would be bad form if I did not give them a gift irritates me to no end. I want to give presents to the people I want, not the people I have to. Not to mention that the stores start hounding me with gift giving guilt some time in late July. Frankly, I don’t want to hear about Christmas until I’ve taken a whole bottle of antacid on the day after Thanksgiving.

It’s not that I totally hate Christmas. Don’t get me wrong. It’s just that as the years go by it feels more and more like any other day of the week. This year in particular. Since we added a new labretard puppy into the mix who eats everything she can, we’re not putting up a tree or decorating. I don’t want to have to find my Day of the Dead holiday ornaments via an x-ray at the vet. Dave will be gone to see his parents while I stay home with the tards, so Christmas morning will feel pretty much like any other Saturday. I will get up, work and eat cookies.

While I don’t remember exactly when it was that Christmas lost it’s patina of wonder for me but it might have been the Christmas morning this disturbing photo of my mother was taken. Yeah, well if she was your mother, you’d be bothered too.

Um. Yeah. Well, she's my mother.

Oh on a final note, and just so we’re clear, it’s Christmas not CHRISTmas. If I hear you say it otherwise, I will come down your chimney, eat all your cookies, and steal your presents. Merry Fuckin’ Ho Ho to you and yours.

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