This time of year is usually my favorite time of year. The weather is cold enough that it makes it okay for a grown man to cuddle under a blanket with a hot beverage and watch “The Notebook” or even something not as manly, like Tyler Perry’s “Why are my movie titles so fucking long that they create run on sentences that have no actual meaning.”
I love the spirit that is in the air. People are more giving, more helpful, happier. My belief in the human spirit is at an all time high, while I’m crying inside because my bank account keeps on dwindling. Christmas is a great holiday that brings families together, great food is shared, people get drunk and a whole slew of blackmail against rich aunts and uncles can take hold so I can afford my rent each month.
You can smell the holiday spirit, it’s enthralling.
Christmas has changed since my younger years, a new generation of smelly kids were born into my ever growing family and it’s wonderful. The pure joy and excitement in their eyes as they tear away the wrapping paper to unveil their gifts gives me a little bit of a heart attack because that paper ain’t cheap and I would’ve liked to salvage some. Just kidding, I use old newspapers that my dog may or may not have soiled.
Seeing their belief in Santa warms me. It’s amazing to see that belief first hand and it makes me think of years past when I too was dumb enough to think there was a man who could deliver presents to every kid in the world.
Here I would normally talk about what Christmas was like this year, but I want to take a journey back to years past when I was just a young boy.
It was Christmas morning and, if memory serves me correctly, I was eight years old. Every year my family would venture out and find a tree that was perfect. We would strap it to the roof of the car, take it down and set it up in the backyard. The best part of the set up was learning new curse words to teach my friends as my dad struggled to get the tree in its stand. Eventually it would make its way to the corner of our den where it stood triumphantly and slowly withering away and dying – nothing says Christmas quite like a decaying piece of the earth. We would decorate it while CBS showed those old-timey animated movies telling tales of Christmas through a cancerous reindeer and an abominable snowman that clearly killed everyone in the real life story. Once done it was the centerpiece of our den and a great feature that we could all marvel at. I, on the other hand, only cared that one day soon presents would fill the space below the tree.
It was a tradition in my house that my sister and I had to sit upstairs perched on the top step of our second floor and wait for the signal to come downstairs and open up gifts. It was a great tradition that surprisingly never landed us in the hospital as kids because running down a flight of stairs while pushing and shoving each other usually spells out good family fun. We did survive though, even if our parents secretly planned for us to get hurt – obviously for their own enjoyment – and each year we would run down, make sure the fat diabetic ate the cookies – Santa, not my dad! – and then put that bastard Jesus in the correct position in the nativity scene. After that it was head on present action with me usually showing my disgust when I got socks or underwear.
My sister and I were three years apart which means she was eleven during this Christmas. Understanding what the holiday spirit meant, she wanted to do something special for her brother and decided to spend her money (read: my mom and dads money, this country has a certain distaste for child labor). The craze this year were Pogs. Remember those? Pogs? Wow, Pogs! The game that really made no sense but people would constantly fight over how cool their collection was. I always won because I just stole everyone’s and was a lot faster then them.
As I unwrapped my gift my sister sat in silence and held back excitement as the paper slowly fell to the side and revealed what I had gotten. What emerged was a small cylinder shaped, translucent green tube that stood about an inch high and had, probably, about 10-12 Pogs in it. I was in shock. This was a gift from my sister. She loved me so much that she went out and spent money on me to get me the hottest gift of the year. She was so cool to give her brother something that he could appreciate and show off. Pure joy swept across her face because she knew that she hit this one out of the park – it probably took all of her will to compose herself and not throw her hands up in excitement as if she just hit a walk off home run.
And here I am looking at this gift. I’m floored, astonished and can’t think of the words to say at this time. Here I held a gift that was so thoughtful and given with love. A gift I could brag about to my friends and tell them how cool my older sister was, and mostly brag to my friends that were only-children and didn’t know the joys of having a sibling. As I looked around the room my mom and dad were so proud of my sister, their faces filled with smiles that reached to each ear. I continued to ponder the correct response. I dug deep because I wanted to fully show what I thought of this incredibly unselfish and considerate gift. So I sat there for a moment and then it finally struck me as I looked at this tube of Pogs that stood at an inch tall and as the words left my mouth my parents’ jaws dropped and my sister started to cry, because all I could muster up was “that’s it?”