I don’t remember a lot about the days leading up to Christmas when I was younger, though I have a general idea of what transpired. I spent the entire month of December anticipating – not really doing anything. There was just waiting and more waiting punctuated with Frosty cartoons and a trip to see Santa at the mall. And though I’ve seen pictures, I can’t recall one solid memory of ever sitting on some fat man’s lap. Unless you count my Papa, of course.
But I remember being full of excitement on Christmas Eve – tossing in my bed for what felt like forever and finally drifting off, only to wake a few hours later with the house still muffled by darkness. I’d force myself to lie there for another hour, knowing mom wouldn’t let me drag my little sister out of bed quite yet. Sometimes I’d creep to the living room and squint through my nerdy, round framed glasses at the piles of presents – trying to decipher what they were by the gloomy silhouettes. Santa didn’t leave wrapped presents at our house; he arranged them artfully around our stockings, like a shop window display.
I’d eventually succumb to temptation, still always before the sun made an appearance, and tiptoe to my sister’s room. I’d prod her awake and make her go ahead of me into our parent’s room to soften the early wake up call. Once Lee had done her thing, mom would get up and start the coffee while I danced anxiously from foot to foot.
Dad was always the last to wander out, stretching and grinning in his old blue robe, knowing we had to wait on him to get started. It was the only day of the year that he was always home and sober, no matter what. He loved Christmas and was always so excited to give us our gifts and watch us get excited in turn. I remember wishing it could be Christmas every day – not for the presents, but to keep him that way, smiling and pleasant.
While our parents sat on the loveseat in their robes, sipping steaming coffee and looking very pleased with themselves, we would exclaim over our piles from Santa Claus. Upending our stockings, we’d eye each other’s lot suspiciously, making sure one wasn’t better that the other. Then dad would dig under the tree and hand out the family presents. Paper would fly and squealing echoed off the walls.
When there was nothing left but the presents to take to The Grandmother’s later that day and a sea of brightly colored paper up to our ears, dad would get a trash bag and gather up the debris. And while mom got in the shower and did last minute food preparations, he would put batteries in our new toys. He would sit cross legged on the floor in his pajama bottoms, robe and coffee cup discarded, and the three of us would play. We would wait until the last possible minute to get dressed and pile in the car.
Now I’m a (and I use this term loosely) grown up and, though all our traditions are essentially the same, the players have switched roles. My part is no longer that of the excited, vision impaired child. I’m now the “arranger”. I’m the groggy adult pulled from her warm bed, forced to ooh and ahh over the presents the fat man gets credit for. The person that cleans the mess rather than makes it, and pays out her ass rather than sits on it.
I envy my five year old this holiday season. All she has to do is sit on the couch, stuff her face with cookies, and irritate me with the incessant ping, ping, ping of her Nintendo DS games. She has no monetary worries, no gift giving stresses, and no desire to best anyone in the cake baking arena. She won’t be bothered with crazed shoppers and her Christmas party will be full of laughter, not the ubiquitous sound of ass kissing.
The major difference between my new role and my old one is not that I buy more than I receive (though that is so pitifully true). It isn’t that I get drunk on wine rather than lie in bed counting the hours till someone comes along breaking and entering, or that I stay up chatting about blowjobs rather than reciting The Night Before Christmas. The major difference, people, is that the mysteries of the holiday have now been revealed. The veil has lifted and as a result, some of the magic has been lost.
Ahem. (Shield your child's eyes. I know you let them read this blog.)
There is no Santa Claus. I repeat: There is NO Santa Claus! Presents are not free and they are not made by elves. There are things called credit cards and one nasty event called Black Friday that was created by Satan and Martha Stewart’s minions. Adults do not get piles of presents, they get bills.
It’s not that I’m a complete scrooge or anything like that. Truthfully, even though it usually hurts me in the end, now I love to give presents a bit more than I like receiving them. (I said a bit more.)
I like watching the kid’s little face light up when she sees her gifts. I like buying things for people that I know they’re going to love, and basking in the warm glow of feeling superior. “They like my present better than yours! Ha, in your face!” I’m absurdly pleased when someone raves about something I got them. Receiving is kick ass, but I’ll agree that giving is more...fulfilling.
It’s rather like my views on oral sex – “Oh, that’s nice...” as opposed to “I noh ou ike it, eeeahh!” How many compliments do you get upon receiving something? None. People don’t just go around saying, “Damn, you’re good at taking that gift!” Or, “Thank you so much for letting me give this to you.” No. The receiver is the one that gives the compliments and gushes with gratitude, and honestly, I’m not always good at handing out thank yous. But I definitely excel at swallowing them.
Anyway, I know people that tell their kids right off the bat that Santa doesn’t exist. My cousin and her husband did that with their three boys, and that was their prerogative. But if one of those little fuckers ruins my kid’s magic prematurely – I will light their bible thumping asses on fire. I may not like giving up the credit for the best presents to the fat guy, but I get to experience a little bit of my old excitement through her and it is kind of nice. It helps to take my mind off the grown up responsibilities – if only for a little while.
As a matter of fact, we’ve been working on her letter to Santa Claus and it’s almost ready to go out. Still being the sweet, blissfully ignorant child that she is, the kid encouraged me to write a letter to him too. “He’ll bring you something too, Mama. You’ve been good!” And you know what? I decided I would do it. Did you know there are places you can mail them to and receive an actual reply?
Dear Santa Claus,
Even though I know you aren’t real, my daughter insisted we both write to you. And since I’ve recently drained the last of my wine bottle and taken a Xanax, I suddenly feel as though anything is possible. You could be out there, hammering away in your workshop with a passel of little people, just waiting to hear from me.
I feel I’ve been rather good this year too. I’ve barely slept with anyone at all, comparatively speaking, and definitely with no one underage. I know you’re remembering the Halloween party, but let me just assure you, I would never have acted on those thoughts. Wait...are you even a mind reader? That’s not important! What is important is that I’m morphing into a sporadically responsible adult, and as an almost always irresponsible child that received presents no matter how many times I was suspended from the school bus, I feel it’s only fair that you cough up the goods now too.
So, without further ado, here, sir, are my requirements:
I would like a pony. That’s a vibrator, not an actual pony. And it must be pink.
I would like a gift certificate to the plastic surgeon. What I want it for is none of your nevermind.
Free health insurance, a new car (and while you’re at it, please pay off my old one first), a book deal, and a foreign boyfriend with a huge penis.
And just to show you that I’m not all that picky, if you’re unable to acquire a foreigner with a huge penis, I’ll settle for a mute, or extremely quiet, American with a huge penis. The rest, though, is non-negotiable. Oh, and while I’m feeling generous...why not throw in a little world peace?
In return, I’ll try to leave out some milk and cookies for you. I can’t promise anything, mind. I never know when I’ll get the munchies or a sudden craving for White Russians.
You need not send a reply just in case you aren’t real. I don’t want to be disappointed before I’m disappointed, you see.
I think that should suffice. I wonder if one of these Santa services would actually reply to that.
Well. There’s only one way to find out, isn’t there?
1 week ago