I Want A Hippopotamus For ChristmasNovember 25, 2008 at 10:16 PM | Posted in Journal | 1 Comment
In the fourth grade I discovered math, and before Thanksgiving I had a countdown of the hours and minutes left until Christmas. That made the time drag more slowly, even. That is the principle known as "A watched pot never boils." A watched Christmas never comes…
As you get older…maybe not *you*…as "we" get older? Hmmm.
As I got older, I noticed that the subjectivity began to slide. The time until Christmas became increasingly shorter, until I was about 20 years old, and the only thing I had to look forward to was an Aqua-Velva gift pack and some socks. At that point–that was the last time I experienced real time during the holidays.
Immediately after that, I was married and had a kid–or kids. From then on, the time between Halloween and Christmas seems to be about a fortnight. For those of you not on medieval standard time, that’s about 2 weeks.
Much of this–most of this–is because I don’t have anything myself to look forward to, but I am responsible for the kids’ happiness. Not enough shopping days? No, plenty of shopping days. Not enough paydays between now and then. I count them on the calendar and cringe. Where am I going to get the money for this from? I can only prostitute myself so much, and maybe it’s the economy, but I haven’t had a lot of takers lately.
Usually, ultimately, somehow, things at least sort of work out in the end. We make compromises and do creative things to make the people in our lives happy. Sacrifice. That’s what it’s all about.
I feel myself again trapped in the swirling vortex that is the countdown to Christmas. Helplessly I spiral downward, grasping in vain at the straws of extra pay, more time, better deals, or a way out. I don’t see how I can afford to buy something for ANYONE, but I know I have to get something for my two kids, and something for Detroit, and something for her son Alex.
And what is the protocol for Brandon? Am I obligated to buy something for the troll who has taken up residency on my couch out of the kindness and decency of my heart (which, let’s be VERY clear here: There is very little of that shit to go around, and he has used all of it) when all he has done is added to my financial burden? I swear to God, if he makes me a hand-made gift out of macaroni, glue, and glitter–
Remember the gift exchange in school, back when we could still celebrate Christmas? The boys drew a boys name, and the girls drew a girls name, and we (meaning our parents) bought a gift for under two dollars (This was the mid-70s. You could buy real estate for two dollars.) I’m probably going to get sucked into at least one, if not two, of those, between my two jobs.
Nevertheless I love the Christmas season. Yes I do, despite my apparent cynicism, not to mention the proof previously offered up on this blog (see my December archives of every year) of how Father Christmas takes a dump on my front porch and lights it on fire. I love to see kids standing in line and crying, waiting to see Santa. I love driving in the snow. I love the crowded throng of people keeping me from my simple errands; I’m not Christmas shopping, I need shoe strings, for Christ’s sake. I love the lights and the pageantry and *everything.*
Remember the Christmas Program at school? I know it was different for everyone, but thematically they were the same: Kids get up and poorly execute Christmas carols while parents sit in the audience trying to maintain an interest. Now I look back on those memories fondly. It was returned to me when last year my daughter was in Choir, and they sang on the steps of the courthouse. The town square was alit with Christmas lights, people sharing the spirit of community, with snow falling, no less. It could not have been any more Norman Rockwell if I had worn a bow-tie.
Sometimes I’m a sentimental, teary-eyed fool. I’m glad it was snowing and dark, to cover it up. Sniffles are common in December as well.
As a conservative, I know I should be upset about the diminishing of Christmas, and the attempt to dismiss it. I’ll fight that fight another day against the godless socialist and secular inhumanist that want to destroy our country and our traditions. Right now…
Right now my Christmas spirit is like my faith sometimes: A tiny, flicking flame on a candle, which I hold my hand up to for cover to protect it from the wind and rain. I nurture it, hoping it will grow. I care not about the things that try to defeat it, except to hold them back. It’s my faith; likewise, it’s my Christmas spirit, and mine alone.
I’m not trying to force it on you–I barely have enough for myself. Why won’t you let me keep this for myself? Why must you try to put out every light? It’s my light, and it’s not in your eyes, and it’s not bothering you. It’s not bright enough to keep you from sleeping. Just let me have my Christmas spirit.
It’s small and quiet, like Tiny Tim. And sickly, too. On crutches and with a cough, and probably ADD as well. But let me have it anyway, please. It’s mine.
And it’s all I have.