Christmas Lists: An Intro

Let me just state for the record that I loathe Christmas. And this is not me being a bah-humbug-Scrooge, so perhaps I should clarify: I loathe the lead up to Christmas. The pressure of squeezing through crowded corridors in Target and Marshall's, looking for something that will make my family enthusiastic and lit-up for at least 60 seconds, while listening to a truly heinous rendition of "Santa's Coming to Town" or a hokey "Silent Night" complete with accordion and fiddle is enough to shake me to pieces. I don't like all the Christmas cookies (I was always a fan of savoury instead of sweet), I feel like a terrible person when I receive 10 Christmas cards and have not sent out any Christmas cards. I always struggle with which friends should get a wrapped present from me. Egg nog tastes like my own snot (as my friend Trey would say) mixed with sugar. I don't even like cinnamon all that much, so all these Cinnamon frappes and lattes are completely wasted on me (but to be fair, so are vanilla lattes any day of the year). Peppermint is also on the chopping block. As far as I'm concerned, peppermint should only be served in tasteful, discreet glass bowls, wrapped in sheets of plastic by the restaurant door.
Worst of all is when people give me stuff. I know, Dear Reader, that if I haven't already alienated you with my rant of dislikes, then I will probably loose you now. Because now there is a significant chance that I will come across as a selfish pig-brattling. If you read my birthday entry on the Imaginarium Terrarium (and you should, because it's quite good, and very from the heart), then you will know that I dislike people giving me things. This is a combination of "I really don't deserve this," and "this isn't really what I wanted at all." I might be difficult to shop for, I'll give Mum and Kirsty that, and they've known me all my life. But just about every year, to make it easier on everyone, I always say "For Christmas I want Wes Anderson dvds." That's it. Verbatim, even. I have asked for these dvds ever since The Life Aquatic With Steve Zissou came out and to date I have received only The Royal Tenenbaums. Fed up, I have since purchased Rushmore and The Darjeeling Limited. To be perfectly honest, getting a gift that I have no interest in is only a fleeting disappointment. There's the fact that they made an effort, they thought about me, and they're feeling the difficulty of wrapping up 25 years of love and putting it under the tree just as much as I am. There's a certain common ground there that I wouldn't pass up for anything. Then there's always the chance that the gift will grow on me; that a few months from unveiling I will retrieve it from its dungeon where it has patiently been waiting and love it.
But one year Mum gave me a video camera. This was around 2001, in fact it was just about to turn 2002, and then I would go on to make a film with my high school friends based on songs by The Barenaked Ladies (at that time my favourite band bar none). The point is, it was rather expensive. So I was sitting in the living room, in my pajamas, awaiting Buck's Fizz, panetone, and scallops wrapped in bacon, holding this machine like someone had dropped Jesus the Christ Himself in swaddling bands in my lap. I wonder if Mary, when she held her baby thought to herself, "what on Earth have I done to deserve this? Surely there are other women, other virgins in the world who are more deserving, more good than me." Because that's pretty much how I felt. I looked at my sister, who was tunneling deeper into debt with med school, who has always been so much more well behaved than me, so helpful and so unselfish, and in my opinion just better than me and wondered why she didn't get something amazing. And also how much did my mother have to sacrifice to purchase this gift? And why didn't I get her something as amazing? She got me the camera because I was an aspiring film maker at the time, and was saving up myself to purchase one. She knew what I needed, as mothers do, and she provided, as mothers do. Why couldn't I, as a daughter, provide her with what she needed for her hobbies?
Then a few years later, Mum gave me a laptop. An Apple Macintosh G4 Powerbook. Goddamn this thing was sweet. I still have it, feeling the same affection as I did for the camera; her name is Sonya. This gift was the result of saying that I needed a computer of my own so I wouldn't have to use my college's computer lab and risk losing papers I was working on. I had even investigated ones on e-bay. So, I held it in my arms and stared at it against a background of torn wrapping paper. This time I didn't just feel like the Mother Mary, wondering why this child was hers. I felt like, I dunno, Saint Catherine; or really Saint Christopher. A Saint that had led such a dreadful, sinful life, and turned a corner at long last, to be rewarded with a miracle. Did he say, "but I don't deserve this."? Did he feel totally humbled by the honour that seemed to be totally misgiven? I gave her a sweater that said, "Proud to be a SCAD mom."
I started to cry. Once again, there was my sister, sitting in the chair next to me, drinking her coffee, and looking so happy and excited for me to receive this present. She said to me, "you know, every once in a while, Mum will give really big gifts. Remember my birthday in high school when I got that awesome back pack from the Mountain Equipment Co-op?"
Seriously? The thing was, Kirsty was being totally genuine! She got a backpack for her 16th birthday (and to her credit, when I was a kid I totally coveted that backpack. But then again I coveted just about everything that Kirsty had) , I got a computer. Nowadays Kirsty, having graduated from med school and being a big shot doctor, is the lavish one. My birthday present was a trip to Turkey and a Kate Spade wallet. The next year it was an ipod Nano touch. One Christmas she gave a me about $500.00 to buy myself a nice microwave. The parts of my birthday present that I really love, let me just quickly disclose, are the cards she sends me. I don't usually keep cards but I've kept hers for the past couple of birthdays.
My Christmas wish is to be able to give. Not just little knick-knack things that still have some goo from the price tag scrapped off, but like, the personification of bounty itself. If I could gift wrap free time; paid off student loans; turkeys; tickets to a really good show complete with backstage passes; motivation; people not being completely stupid morons for one day (that one I would probably gift to myself); phone calls from studios; publishing houses; everyone getting along; no drama; no aches and pains; closure; a good time with friends; not feeling lonely anymore; an afternoon to ponder with the glimmer of understanding twinkling in the distance; phone calls always returned; or a friendly letter always in the mail; friends always wanting to listen to stories; fairies at the back of the garden; knowing and hearing from loved ones that have passed on that they love and are proud of you; people chewing with their mouths closed (again, this one I might hold back for me), or feeling comfortable with oneself.....
Well, I think I could enjoy Christmas in that case.
Stay tuned as I describe what I do like about Christmas.


  1. "My Christmas wish is to be able to give."

    I couldn't agree with this more.


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