This past Christmas day I couldn’t stand having the tree inside my house anymore, and by midday I had that bitch stripped and laying in the front yard. My daughter reminded me that the Christmas holiday was over by 12:30. I guess it seems cruel, in retrospect, to put an end to the holiday so early, but there was much negotiation between my daughter and I about this tree. The debate was she wanted one and I didn’t. Guess who won? For the first four years of being in our new home, we have never had a tree. I just couldn’t. I figured that my girl had a tree at her father’s house and two trees, well…was just over kill.
She has a love for the Christmas holiday and I don’t have much of a stomach for it. She asks frequently why I dislike such a “wonderful time of the year”. I shrug the question off. I tell her it’s just the way it is, and would much rather celebrate every “National” made up day with as much excitement as she exerts towards Christmas. “National Coffee Day”, I am there and fully committed! Bottoms up!
A few weeks ago, I burned my Christmas tree in my fire pit in the back yard and I vote that this is our 11th Federal Holiday (I choose not to count Inauguration Day as a holiday, even if it is counted every four years). I have not felt this much joy, maybe ever. The tree was burned while having a nice glass of wine, while smoking a cigar with a friend. It might have been the perfect moment in time. I have a picture and my close friends might be getting this captured moment in their Christmas Cards next year. I will warn them in advance. They might never ever see me that happy in real life.
Why do I hate Christmas? That really is a good question, because nothing extraordinarily bad happened that contaminated this holiday, but maybe it was just pinpricks that built up like the sting of an electric shock collar that quiets a dog that I imagine once enjoyed barking. But I do blame my holiday hatred on always wanting that pony and hating me for allowing myself to want such a thing.
When I think of this holiday, two things always remind me of Christmas; cigarette smoke and disinfectant spray, but mainly just heavy cigarette smoke. Gosh, just the thought makes me all warm and fuzzy. Most of my childhood, I spent inside bowling alleys, but for some reason Christmas inside the bowling alley seemed special. The decorations, the tree piled with tinsel, the blue/grey haze of cigarette smoke, and the smashing of pins being knocked down. Well, this is what Christmas songs should sing about. If I wasn’t running into Santa at the bowling alley and accepting a candy cane. I was waiting to sit on Santa’s lap at the Elks Lodge. The only difference between the two was the absence of pins, bowling balls and the smell of disinfectant spray in the air and the addition of an amazing gift bag that Santa used to give all kids that whispered their Christmas wishes into his ear.
I was always grateful for the generous gift bag that I remember including a Hershey’s chocolate bar, a popcorn ball, maybe an apple, and a candy cane. I always secretly wanted to trade with one of my siblings their chocolate bar for my popcorn ball, but nobody in their right mind would do this. I felt guilty for just the thought of asking. I don’t remember what I asked Santa for from year to year, but I did at least ask for that pony a few times. I always felt the gift bag Santa handed out after I left his lap was a parting “I’m sorry kid” for what wasn’t going to be under the tree on Christmas day.
I do remember asking for a animal radio or maybe I distinctly asked for a “cat radio”. For some reason, I think I asked for this for more than one Christmas. I might have gotten a dog radio, too. Do you know what these are? These are actual stuffed animals, but with a radio shoved inside. God, I loved these. I would open up my gift radio, disappear into my bedroom, lay on my bed and just snuggle with my hard stuffed animal while listening to it. And I would then cry into it’s sweet fur about the pony that Santa didn’t bring. I do understand that the meaning of Christmas is bigger than what is/was under the tree, but my selfish childhood brain wasn’t able to see past the Christmas tree skirt.
So, when my daughter asks me why I don’t like Christmas, I will continue to shrug and change the subject. My daughter has never asked for a pony for Christmas. She wants a horse. Not any horse, she wants a Friesian or Gypsy Cob. I would have settled for any pony, lost or lame with dental disease. However, her odds of getting a horse is similar to my past circumstances. It depends on me winning the Powerball, which she insists I play. What she WILL get each year is a Christmas tree, because my new holiday can only exist if I have a tree to sacrifice. The holidays just got just a little bit brighter for me, I am looking forward to the after, after Christmas. I just might buy a bigger tree next year.