Christmas shopping has always been one of my most pleasurable experiences I have engaged in since the time I unknowingly stepped into a bear trap and had to gnaw my foot off and crawl 20 miles on my hands and knees to a hospital. All the while smaller animals were laughing at me and calling me ‘stubby’. I have always been a Scrooge when it comes to Christmas and that continues to be true to this day, and it gets more severe every year. I will one day become the Anti-Christmas entity. How did I come to get to this place in life? Well it was not difficult.
People today take even the technology of stringed lights for granted. When I was a child, I absolutely hated decorating the Christmas tree. This started with my incompetent father who had the innate ability to go look at any tree that he could procure and inevitably it would have a crooked trunk. On a lot of 1,000 trees he could hone in on the ONE tree that was not suitable as a Christmas tree. He was akin to the dope smelling dogs whose olfactory excellence can lead them to dope so well hidden, a human could never locate it. I think he could also lick himself but that is another story. Once he procured the crooked old tree, we would spend hours attempting, with wire and nails, to even get the damn thing to stand up. Many times it would fall faster than the woman who went down in that commercial and exclaimed â€œI’ve fallen and I CANâ€™T GET UP!â€ I always felt like I was in the perpetual Charlie Brown special where he gets the crappy little tree and he is ostracized for purchasing it until a blanket and some bulbs make it looks spectacular. Only in a cartoon! Since the tree was always crooked, the star on top was never straight. This is one reason, to this day, I still wish to stick a crooked red hot poker up my father’s rear end and sing â€œOn Top of Old Smokey!â€ He would pick trees that even beavers rejected.
The second part of terror I was to face, dealt with the strings of light. First off, no matter HOW carefully you wound them up the year before they would be tangled beyond belief. This was the only time I believed in ghosts and I am sure that Charles Dickensâ€™ ghost had something to do with it to teach me some lesson. They did not observe that all it made me feel was like getting a can of gasoline and playing fire watcher as the tree was engulfed in flames. So after spending hours of untangling the strings of lights you had to replace the burned out ones. These being single circuit strings, if one bulb was out you had to find the faulty bulb. This encompassed changing out every bulb until the culprit was found. It was tedious and boring and you would also get shocked! It might have helped if we had snacks or treats to egg us on through this Hell that was decorating but there never was so it was a living Hell. No wonder the Scrooge in the beginning of the story was my hero by the time I was 10! Now came the stringing of the lights around the precariously secured crooked Christmas tree which would inevitable fall and have to be secured 20 times. I did not mind so much hanging Christmas bulbs. That I could deal with.
I had an incredible hatred of silver icicles. I was always told to put one on at a time. WTF! I had already spent hours in this Christmas Hell wishing I was really hanging over a pit of fast growing, sharpened bamboo. At least I would be given release! I would place a strand here and there until my mother was not looking and then would inevitably, without fail just take a handful and throw it up over the tree and let it settle where it would. She never noticed the difference. A clump here and a clump there. If questioned I would just say I placed quite few single strands together in exactly the same place. I do not believe we ever had a tree that did not need constant tending to keep it from falling over and pinning someone or one you could show off to other people and be proud. I once had someone pass out under our Christmas tree when I was a teen and they were never seen again. Damn tree spirits!
The only tradition we kept that I enjoyed was hanging Christmas cards on the mantel piece over the fire place. It made me feel good that so many people thought of us on Christmas, so it made me feel better. When I was 11 I actually started reading the cards at some point and discovered they were all signed by people that had been dead for many years. I was quite dubious when I found two sent by Presidents Lincoln and Washington and Washingtonâ€™s name was misspelled. I kept the one sent to us by Macolm X, wishing us a Merry Christmas and a Death to all Honkies. That one was a collectorâ€™s item. I also keep it with the card from Mother Teresa wishing us all the suffering in the world so we could get closer to God.
The only thing that made the setting were the presents. My father would take meticulous care and time to wrap presents perfectly. It was the only thing he could do without screwing it up royally. Unfortunately once my father gave you a present, after a few weeks it would mysteriously disappear and end up back in his possession. I do not know why he needed to wear my Yogi Bear pajamas but I knew they were way too big when I received them and had mistook them for a sleeping bag. He would also buy you games he knew you would never use and take them back and play them with the boys. It is just wrong giving a 7-year-old the game â€œPass Outâ€ the deluxe edition!
Picture taking time was just all wrong. We would open up presents such as a machine gun that made a rat-a-tat sound when the trigger was pulled and proceed to play Army man. I ask one question. Why give a gift to a kid you know is going to irritate the piss out of you? Scenario: My brother and I open our gifts. GREAT machine guns! We begin playing. Dad gets pissed and kicks our asses and while we are crying, he wants pictures taken and DAMN IT we had better be smiling. Nothing like smiling while you are crying! Again the red hot poker up his rectum would have worked wonders on my demeanor.
Aww, then the taking down of the tree and the decorations. It was fast and I always looked forward to getting that damn tree out of the house and BURNING it! I took joy in the comfort in the heat it provided as it cracked and turned to ash. If only I could have done that with all the decorations. My mother would always catch me as I was dragging them out of the house and I would claim she had told me to do it but had obviously forgotten about it. It never worked.
As an adult I have never dealt with a Christmas tree with the exception of helping someone transport one home and set it up. Unbelievably I can actually pick a tree with a STRAIGHT trunk! I did not receive that genetic gift from my father and I actually do have three pounds of convoluted tissue in my cranium with which I can solve problems with. I am so glad I did not develop my brain near my rectum as he did!