Merry Christmas, dear reader.
My mom woke me early, at about 8:00 AM. She wished me a Merry Christmas and then called me downstairs for breakfast. What she didn’t tell me was that she gathered the whole family of aunts, uncles and cousins that I barely speak to to share this marvelous day with us. So I had to spend the next half hour receiving hugs and kisses and pretending to remember names of distant relatives- All before my first cup of coffee. I swear there were at least thirty people in my living room, five of whom I recognized.
Someone shoved a mug of eggnog into my coffee-craving hands, and then we gathered around the Christmas tree to open presents. It was easily one of the most nerve racking experiences I’ve ever had, as I anxiously waited for my mother to open her gift. Since I waited until the last minute to buy her a gift, I was struggling last night. The only places open were gas stations, and I did not want to get my mother windshield wipers for Christmas. Luckily, some quick thinking led to an inspired bit of re-gifting on my part:
Cindy’s tacky gift for me was finally put to good use. My mom was thrilled when she received it, and she hasn’t taken it off all day. I don’t think I’ve been happier with Cindy’s poor taste.
What did I get for Christmas? A whole smattering of exquisitely decorated, clichéd presents: Hot chocolate, mandarin oranges, Christmas movies, a sweater. One of my aunts gave me “snowman poop”- a creative gag gift- then laughed maniacally for what seemed like half an hour. My mom gave me her staple gift of new underwear, in a clever “coal” bag, and a hand-knitted Santa hat- which I’m still wearing as I type this.
Even my annoying cousin Mary who I never speak to got me Jingle All the Way on DVD- which happens to be my favorite Christmas movie. Her look of joy as I opened her gift made me feel guilty enough to tell her I got her a gift too. Then I hastily ran upstairs to re-gift to her the UofC sweater I originally bought for Cindy. Mary was so thrilled she managed to make me smile despite myself.
My mom then handed me a small brown envelope that came in the mail. It had my name on it. I opened the envelope and read the card my father sent me. It wished me a Merry Christmas, and there was a brief note inside. “I hope you have a wonderful time, Love, Dad.” I smiled, and then went upstairs to set the the card on the mantle in my room. The same mantle that holds the baseball me and my dad used to toss around.
My mom then asked me and my cousins to pick up some dinner rolls that she forgot to get for Christmas dinner. As we were leaving the store with our purchases, we noticed some kids having a snowball fight in the parking lot. My cousins and I exchanged sideways looks, and next thing we knew, we were engaged in a rousing snowball fight with some neighborhood kids. In a Sobey’s parking lot. I have to say, I took way to much pleasure in thrashing the little brats. I felt like Buddy the Elf:
Oh well, I guess that’s one way for me to relieve my stress.
We got some drinks from Starbucks to warm us up while dinner was being prepared. It’s worth noting that the last time I drank something out of those patented red cups it was in the middle of a stressful experience with Cindy. But as I sat sipping my Peppermint Mocha by the fire, exchanging silly stories with my cousins, I was at total ease.
As I type this, my mom is setting the table. My cousins and I are sitting around the TV watching A Charlie Brown Christmas. I’ve probably seen it a hundred times, so I took this time to type out my last blog entry (at least until next year). I can smell the meal that my mom is preparing, mingled with cinnamon and peppermint. I can hear my aunts laughing from the kitchen. I see some of my cousins sucking on candy canes. It’s the most Christmassy atmosphere I’ve been in all year.
I think of all the frustrations I had this year, and how I grew to hate this season. So how is it that I have nothing to complain about today? Don’t get me wrong, I still have a fair number of issues with the season. But I guess it doesn’t all have to be an angsty experience. I mean, everyone around me is smiling. So it just makes sense for me to set aside my issues and enjoy the day with my family. Because despite all my issues, and despite the fact that Christ wasn’t really born today, there’s an undeniable spirit to this season. I mean, why else would all these people be so damn cheerful on an annual basis?
My mom’s calling us all to the table. The chaotic dinner is about to begin. I’m sure I can bear it.
I think I’m done.