I know it’s Christmas if someone is trying to fob off a tin of cookies on me. The cookies I don’t mind, but what’s all this business of giving me tin after tin, year after year? What am I supposed to do with 127 cookie tins of various shapes and sizes? Build condos for the neighbourhood squirrels? Insulate my walls? Sell them on eBay?
It’s Christmas if I suddenly get the urge to poke inflated snowmen and Santas with a sharp stick while simultaneously critiquing my neighbours’ light displays, or lack thereof in some cases. I mean, c’mon—what’s with the houses with the single string of lights? If you’re only gonna do one string, why even bother? It’s not like these people do anything interesting with that one string either, like use it to strangle a garden gnome or give Jesus’ manger running lights.
I don’t hang lights. If I did some schmuck like me would come along and sneer down her nose at my LED splendor. Much better to be the sneerer than the sneeree. Besides, my neighbours can sneer all they like at the mess of my front yard spring through fall.
It’s Christmas if my husband is receiving at least fifteen packages in the mail every day that I either have to sign for, pay for, lug, tug, or drag into the living room, or otherwise deal with. I know all the courier guys by name. One of the perils of working at home, while living with a geek who has an outside job and likes to shop online, is that one becomes a de facto personal assistant. Signing for mail, relaying calls, foiling murder plots, that sort of thing.
I also know it’s Christmas if I need emergency dental work from grinding my teeth so hard whenever I hear “Every time a bell rings an angel gets its wings!” that they shatter. Seriously, don’t you just want to smack the crap outta that little girl in It’s a Wonderful Life? That annoying nasality combined with the icky sweetness of ringlets. I want to punch her hard in the face then set fire to her friggin’ petals.
It’s Christmas if everyone is suddenly nice to me for no apparent reason but then turn ugly the moment I reach for that last Toblerone. Scratch that. I’m not all that fond of Toblerone. I eat it because it’s a sin to waste chocolate, but I’m not fond of how the nougat sticks in my teeth. So ... It’s Christmas if everyone is suddenly nice to me for no apparent reason but then turn ugly the moment I reach for that last block of on-sale Philadelphia™ cream cheese.
But I also know it’s Christmas by some of the cards and holiday letters we get. For a few years, my sister-in-law sent us ones with an evil-looking drunk Santa singing in the gutter on the front. One year, my friend Peter sent one with Adolph Hitler, in classic raised-arm Nazi salute on the front; the inside read “Heil be home for Christmas.” These cards are in return for the odd (and sometimes sacrilegious) Christmas greetings we’ve been sending out now for more than 20 years. Each year, we spend at least a month or so doctoring cheesy boxed Christmas cards with conversation bubbles from the Saturday comics; the inside messages are similarly doctored with the help of donated magazines.
Christmas letters from friends and family far away keep me up to date and with what their children look like or in some cases do. The son of a friend of mine broke his arm three years running and to make up for not breaking it last year, he instead devised a banner with felt lions and bears and the words “Jesus is awesome” emblazoned on it for his first Communion. Apparently, the priest “loved the lions”.
Christmas is the best and the worst holiday of the year. It’s always great to reconnect with friends and family and the food is always good. But there never seems to be enough time to do anything and the season always makes me anxious. We have no children and don’t have to travel anywhere but the stress coming off other people seems to osmote straight into me. Don’t even get me started on the folks who start lining up outside stores on Christmas night for the Boxing Day sales.
Christmas is now over for another year. I’ll put the Christmas card craft boxes in storage, set aside my sharpened stick for the next eleven months and hope to hell that the leaning tower of cookie tins that I’ve built in the basement doesn’t fall over in the middle of the night and freak out the cats.