Thursday, December 24

O Tannenbaum

Over the course of my lifetime, Christmas has deteriorated from something really magical and fun to something more along the lines of necessary and unavoidable. That has never felt more true than this year. And maybe it's that way for every single, dissatisfied 20-something with no kids, but it's gotten to the point that if this were to be the last Christmas ever in the history of mankind I don't think I'd mind.
When I was little, on Christmas Eve my mother would let my brother and I open 2 presents. They were always the same: Christmas pajamas and a new ornament for the tree. I remember it always being boring but these days I miss the tradition. Then we made homemade pizza for dinner, crust from scratch and everything, and everyone got to choose their own toppings and have their own private pizza. Everything else varied. Sometimes we'd spend Christmas day with friends or my grandparents, I think a few times we just stayed home and relaxed all day playing with new toys and watching old movies. It was nice. We were never especially religious and didn't really attend church things or say prayers, it wasn't about praising the supposed birth of Jesus Christ, it was about embracing your loved ones and forcing them to spend time with you. It was about getting a hug from your brother for the first time all year and about having your dad home from work all day. It was special.
When my mom left when I was 8, Christmas started getting stressful. I had to have two Christmases, sometimes three, and it was hard and strained and I could see my dad feeling lonely and sad but trying to hold it together for my brother and I. It was uncomfortable. But for a long time it was still somehow stable because my mother had the same girlfriend for a lot of years. When they broke up and she started seeing other people, that's when it got bad. I remember spending a Christmas with one of her girlfriends' kids at their shitty house, eating shitty food and feeling so out of place and envying my brother who, for some reason, was allowed to be absent. I remember being in middle school and setting up the Christmas tree alone in the house where my brother and dad and I lived, just because it felt like I had to and that Christmas wouldn't mean anything if I gave up, too.
After my dad remarried and my step family moved in, I did finally give up. My last Christmas was their first Christmas with us, and my sister and I set up the tree with all of my ornaments, the ornaments that my mother gave to me over the years and the ones she had made by hand, the ones I had made by hand and the ones my brother had made by hand. It was all the same as it had been before, except totally different. The next year, my stepmother went and bought new ornaments so we didn't have to use the ones that my mother made. I haven't touched a Christmas tree since and I won't until I get to use her ornaments again. Most years, we don't even have a tree.
The story of my mother's ornaments, all wooden and ancient and painted, was that it was my mom and dad's first Christmas together, back then they were poor. They must have been 19 years old. My dad called his mother to wish her a Merry Christmas, and she asked what he and my mom were doing to celebrate. He said nothing, they didn't even have a tree. And my grandmother demanded that he go out and get a tree, so he went outside and chopped down a tree, but these days he thinks it was a bush. My mother bought a kit and painted all the ornaments and they decorated their little tree (or bush) with all the ornaments and for years and years we kept doing it until things started to get different and harder and people left and people moved and people came in and people died.
After high school, I have to admit that there was something special in Christmas for me again because I always had a boyfriend to share it with. There's something really grand and romantic about Christmas with a lover and I think of Christmas now the way the Japanese do. It's a day to be in love, to be romantic, to be sweet. And I think I'm a pretty good present-giver. The last 2 Christmases all found men in my life, but I remember them being sad, confusing, bad years. This is the first year in many years where there are none, so I spent the $350 I had in mind to spend on a boyfriend on myself. Merry Christmas, baby. (I did still buy the ex a few things, however, because we are friends and I feel like this is the last chance I'll ever have to dictate his wardrobe, which is something he needs. I don't think he'll give me anything, and when I think about it, there's not anything that I want from him anyway.)
This year it is Christmas eve and I am alone, and will be all day. I have a nine hour shift until 10 and then I am coming home to sleep or watch a movie or, I don't know, maybe I'll buy some wine. My family has been out of town for a week visiting my grandparents, and I think they will be back by tonight, but I'm not sure. It doesn't matter anyway, there won't be pizza (I made some yesterday, anyway) or hours of present-opening or a special anything. We'll all just go to bed and Santa will miss our house and nothing will happen in the morning. It's just another day.
That's all I can think about today, that it's just another day, any other day, like a birthday or a remembrance or a graduation. In the grandest scheme of things, while others are celebrating and singing and kissing and being in love and being happy, for me it has and will always be one more day on the calendar.

Here are some of my ornaments.

I don't mean to be sad, it's just that I am. And Christmas doesn't mean anything, anyway. Scholars have noted that Jesus Christ was more likely born in the spring time and that the winter celebration is a pagan festival linked to the Germanic tribes who found trees to be sacred and decorated them to honor them. Some ass hole decided to insert Christ into the festivities to try to keep the Germans in line and the Romans in line and everyone in harmony and now we have some fucked up, secretly pagan, historically inaccurate holiday that idiots think of as sacred and holy.

Scrooge out.

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