"As a child, Christmas seems less like a holiday and more like some invincible force of happy. Of warmth and of light. Of stockings hanging from mantles and picturesque fog on windows. Of course, there are still some grown-ups who feel this way, and I can never decide if I think they're lucky or naive or both.
But the truth
about Christmas is that it's just as capable of being spoiled as any
other day of the year. There is no great fortress around it. It has no
The day I became privy to this was the day I found Josephina underneath the tree. My American Girl doll. Brushable hair and the kind of eyes and that closed and shut. Flawless. I remember holding her, standing alone in a quiet living room feeling unsure about what to do with myself.
White lights were still meticulously stranded on the tree, the imitation evergreen
branches still aglow. There was wrapping paper on the floor and garland around the banister and all of the Christmas paraphernalia you could need to feel merry and bright as ever. I felt dim.
I remember an argument starting earlier that morning, in the corner where my parents sat. A dark, fussy cloud settled over each of their heads. Just like mistletoe, only garnering the opposite effect. My brother and I, both masters of distraction, doing our best to talk over them and keep each other preoccupied with new presents. Even though I doubt we were even paying attention to silly presents at that point. We could sense a storm coming, and when a storm is coming, it's generally difficult to focus on anything else. You know, the same way food doesn't taste good anymore when you're nervous.
At some point, the tempest reached a sort of pinnacle followed by my dad parading out the front door in a fit of Christmas rage. This is similar to Christmas cheer, only not at all. In any way.
Somehow, all three of us, that being me, my mom and brother, ended up on my parent's bed - the mainstay of the family. Kind of like Santa's sleigh, only for sleeping on instead of delivering presents. I didn't fully understand the situation at the time. I think I was mostly thinking of myself and wondering how this day of all days could have ended like this, in tears on a bed. Now I realize that crying is just what you do when you're at a complete loss to console any of the people you love. I also remember that my feet were freezing, even bundled underneath the white down comforter. I remember wondering why did we go
to all of this trouble every year anyway, if it was just going to make
The next year in school, I was
supposed to write a letter to Santa Clause. Apparently he needed another annual notification of my material desires. You know the drill. I wrote that I simply and sincerely wanted nothing more than for December 25th not to result in an argument. I wasn't trying to be dramatic or anything. Just, honestly, what good
are presents if families couldn't all be in the same room together to open them?
My outrageously nosy teacher decided it would be a good idea to call my mom and inform her of what I had written. Because, for reasons that escape me, she found it concerning and thought it was any of her business. And I remember my mom
crying, again. Which was really the opposite of what I had wanted. Thanks, Mrs. Lee. (And if you're reading this, that was sarcasm.)
You see, Christmas
puts pressure on people until they storm out of front doors. Christmas
plants a certain sense of helplessness inside of me causes it to grow and spread throughout my entire body.
And I'm not saying that liking this holiday is stupid or that anyone who does is inferior or even that any of this is rational or justified. It's just that Christmas has always had a way of blowing up in my face.
So falalalala yourself."
-From a while ago. And for the record, this is a poor representation of the top notch job my parents did of raising me in a happy, loving home. Because it was. We've just always struggled with the big holidays, buckled under the pressure or something like that.