A Slightly Mature Christmas Card for My Friends

It is holiday season and I am standing beside our family Christmas tree, strangely sharp green needles pricking my skin, the nauseating smell of Pine, or in this case, Pine-Sol since our tree is artificial (we enjoy the pretense of keeping up appearances) – artificial because my family members are rabidly Pro-Environment and believe debasing forestry is sinful, and problematic because my parents are also Pro-Choice. This means, if I am going to electrocute something with these lights I’m apparently supposed to be hanging around the baby Jesus, in their minds I’d be better off choosing the child than the evergreen. Still, I find joy in placing the delicate ornaments and draping the tinsel – because nothing says Christmas like dangling balls and shredded aluminum scrap.

Christmas brings back a lot of memories – my Uncle Bob sitting outside with a case of beer trying to figure out if standing on your head under the mistletoe would force someone to kiss your ass – snow, which is cold, like the heart of the Santa Claus whose lap I sat on at the mall when I was eight years old, whose breath smelled like scotch and whose hands moved a little too far up my leg, the Santa who told me that it didn’t matter what I wanted for Christmas because I was a little annoying brat like all the other kids standing in line and that I should prepare myself for a giant lump of coal… so I just sat there, in tears, as he gave a jolly smile for my parents who were capturing this holiday photo for their annual greeting card. Merry Christmas – from your grandson and a red-suited pedophile!

Christmas makes me think of shopping. There is nothing better than standing behind an eighty-five year old woman-with-flatulence who’s trying to swipe her Visa card through that little slot. It reminds me of my office Christmas party when I had three quarts too much of the eggnog and headed off to the restroom to shake out the ol’candy cane. Aiming into that urinal and watching my stream bounce off the sides and hit the floor makes Grandma Smelly look like Magellan. In the end, I think her credit card is really the perfect symbol for Christmas. We use plastic cards to buy plastic toys wrapped in plastic, put them under a plastic tree, put on our plastic personalities for relatives. Yea, Christmas is a genuinely good time.

Christmas makes me think of presents gathered under the tree, symbols of love and generosity and how they make one’s character grow. Then again, when your tree is plastic, the presents underneath just kind of sit there, wondering what the hell they are supposed to be nurturing. But, oh that exciting morning, when you run downstairs and stare at all the brightly colored packages and big ribbons, expecting half of Toy’s R Us to be waiting for you in those massive boxes. That wonderful moment when you’re halfway down the long side of the candy cane and your dad says “Go ahead, open ‘em up.” The tearing and shredding and throwing of the wrapping paper as you get down to the final box, which holds the best present of them all…whoa it’s a….wait, what’s this…You have made a donation to the World Wildlife Fund. When I travel these days and see signs like Deer Crossing, or Elk Grazing, I get a little choked up. Roadkill offers an especially moving moment. It’s like my childhood splattered all over the highway, guts ripped out and waiting for the North Pole’s elves to come along and scoop me up with their little toy shovels.

Like most families, we have one special decoration that dangles precariously upon an outer branch, the tiny silver hook bending around the limb and holding up twenty years of tradition and sentiment. It’s as though this one small little ornament can bring one back to childhood, like Citizen Kane’s Rosebud, only ours has batteries, and is comprised of a rather long slender and slightly bulbous shape, which was exciting for a kid who thought it was a microphone, but then when I hit my late teens, left me wondering whether this vibrating outer branch might or might not actually be a hiding place for something else when Santa and Mommy were feeling a little more than the Christmas spirit. Thirty years later I still have this rosy glow upon my cheeks when I blush and I sometimes get the sense there was one Christmas Santa might have left a little more than presents.

Docked upon the mantel, my appropriately colored red and white Ipod now echoes its Christmassy tunes across the house and I laugh, childishly creating overtly-sexual and anti-religious titles, which means while Christmas music is playing, I walk around shopping malls with a hard-on, which is embarrassing, which means I turn bright red, like Rudolph’s nose, which means, potentially, my genitalia could become the subject of a Christmas song…Little Hummer Boy …Let Her Blow Let Her Blow Let Her Blow….Dick and Balls Will Bring You Jollies….and the already lewd and inspiring O Come All Ye Faithful? Somehow, the images of dancing sugarplums combines with nine leaping lords and eight milking maids and I’m overcome by the subtle suggestiveness of the holiday.

S-A-N-T-A may actually be a word scramble for something darker, red, something which comes down the chimney into the fire, buys me off with gifts, takes my mind away from the birth of the savior, something which would enjoy commercializing religion for profit and chuckle at the orgiastic images now permeating my brain. No wonder Christmastime feels like hell.

Beneath the tree, several presents are wrapped in hemp, the irony coming tomorrow morning when the unwrapped gift reveals the four ounces of freshly cut “medical marijuana,” an annual peace offering from my brother to my mother which attempts to dispel the didactic little proverb that you just can’t judge a book by its cover, with the fortuitous side-benefit that comes with the subsequent fireside smoke-out and devouring of all candy canes and left over cookies an hour later.

Hanging the stockings, in this case old Sheer nylons which leave little to the imagination and probably induce Santa into longing for Mrs, Claus, the upshot of which now leaves a chubby, bearded and now horny, red-faced elf breaking into the homes of small children and probably sets Michael Jackson’s hair on fire –unintended subtext merely coincidental – in any case, hanging the stockings from the mantel indicates Santa will be jamming his hands into a place where my mother’s legs and ass have recently resided, an altogether disturbingly Oedipalian thought which leaves me wondering about Santa’s mother, and whether she celebrated Christmas, and who came down her chimney, and if Nick was a naughty kid, and whether, when he was a teenager, she told poor Nicolas to go get a job and the poor child has been flying around the word once a year giving kids presents in his search for redemption – as it were.

I place the requisite Cookies next to the fireplace, wondering if that bowlful of Jelly is a precursor to diabetes and whether I’m now aiding and abetting the death of a popular mythical figure – then the milk, the assumption that Santa is not lactose intolerant important because that thick black belt appears too difficult to remove in case of emergency, and I’m fairly certain that if some kid caught Santa Claus in the bathroom during Christmas Eve, we’d have a whole redefining of Yule Logs.

Through the window I see the neighbor’s yard, aglow with lights and that obscenely priced Wal-mart-purchased plastic Santa sitting upon their lawn, the slightly breeze making him teeter back and forth as though drunk on eggnog, and his belly now sagging with the slight leak that is excessively throwing CO2 into the air and melting the North Pole, making the whole scene a rather cannibalistic and ironic affair.

Taking one last glance at the tree, its glistening lights now reflecting off the frosted colored glass then fading into the dark leaves of its natural plastic beauty, I speculate about the meaning of Christmas. Is it more than families coming together in the spirit of giving, something other than suspension of reality – that moment of fantasy which allows us all to be children again, or is it just another day when we are forced to spend half our salaries in long lines on late nights in the hopes that we can purchase another year of love and affection?

I make my way up the stairs to a soft pillow and warm blankets, the hint of snow now dusting my shutters. I sip my hot chocolate, the warm and frothy feeling bringing me closer to a long winter’s nap…and then I grab my fully-loaded shotgun and get ready to shoot that little red-suited fucker when he enters my house.

Merry Christmas to all and to all a good night.

By ccxander

Stop Unwrapping My Christmas Spirit

In my youth, I used to do the it’s-5:30 a.m.-and-I’m-so-excited-I-have-to-pee waddle down the stairs in my little footie pajamas (God I miss those!) and plop down in front of the ornament-laden Christmas fir to await my parents awakening.  Inevitably, in the overwhelming anticipation of impending materialistic excess, I’d ramp up the adrenals to the point where I’d crash and my folks would find me asleep with my arms wrapped around some unwrapped gift.  I remember the ol’ Operation game that offered a sadistic electrical shock when you accidentally nicked the funny bone, and the Rock’em Sock’em robots with the unsightly beheadings, the board game Mousetrap with its Rube Goldberg architecture, and that exasperating Rubik’s Cube which caused me endless hours of adolescent angst before I figured out that you could just take the stickers on and off and appear smart enough to get-after that Ivy League education.

I can recall a house filled with instrumental Christmas songs that provided me an entire month of creative realignment – “On the 5th day of Christmas my true love gave to me, FIVE onion rings” “With a corncob pipe and a butt and nose” “You’ll tell Carole’s been hung by a wire” – because youth and logic have no common ancestry.  Those fabricated lyrics eventually led me into literature and inspired wordplay, the upshot of which caused my parents to walk around with the same expression and head tilt one sees on a dog when you speak Chinese to it. (Note to self: A billion people think that last reference was nonsensical.)  What I’m driving at, though, is one of my fondest childhood memories.  My mother got me a roll of toilet paper with a crossword puzzle on each sheet.  Tenacity is one of my finer traits, and spending an hour on the toilet seat to complete enough puzzles to “wipe the slate clean” as it were, was my childhood’s Great Wall.  I nailed every one of those puzzles and now spend my adult life suffering numb legs and displaying outer thigh scars to prove it.  By the time Christmas rolled around the following year, I was on to cryptograms and creators at Charmin were marketing more toward the Wheel of Fortune crowd so…but I digress….

“The stockings were hung by the Chimney with care.”  Does anyone actually one think this author Henry Livingston wasn’t getting a little action on Christmas?  A quick look back reveals that Henry and his wife tossed back one too many eggnogs and got a little frisky in front of the fireplace.  While Henry was thinking about roasting his chestnuts, the ol’ broad aimed her skivvies onto the hearth, and now a hundred years later we’re saddled with this silly stocking tradition.

Twenty bucks to anyone who can tell me what “threw open the sash” is without hitting a Google Search.

“Oh what fun it is to ride in a one-horse open sleigh?”  You ever try this in the middle of a Northeast winter.  Fun?  It’s friggin’ freezing. Your ears go numb, the snot on your nose crystallizes into something you might find on a necklace at Zales, your cheeks have a knife-stabbed thing about them, not to mention the sore ass from the helicopter-like chop of those damn equine feet.

And now we have this whole Christmas tree fiasco.  Folks buy aluminum, tin or other low elements on the periodic table, and then spray them with aerosol snow and decorate them with plastic ornaments and layer them with kilowatt sucking lights  – not to mention the whole lead-painted toys and plastic-wrapped electronics and fire-retardant wrapping paper – and then spout some pretentious cliche about being environmentally sensitive.   I guess I’m just thinking it might be nice to cut a real tree, to enjoy the scent of evergreen or fir – or for those from the sixties generation, something more indulgent – and then if you feel some deep-seeded desire to replenish things, go plant something.

Anyway, during this wintery season, I just wish people would stop getting up in my grill about how I celebrate the holidaze (yes, I spelled it that way because that’s what it feels like).

By ccxander

Bah Humbug!

Well, it’s another Christmas season and the little cynical kid in me is all revved up.  I’m just getting over the repulsion I felt from spending Thanksgiving morning with my hand up a turkey’s ass and then enjoying the evening eating the stuff I shoved up there. Who’s the genius who came up with that fine cuisine concoction? Alas, post-Thanksgiving days are made for shopping and I am now in the mall parking lot in the front seat of a 2008 silver four-door Jeep, moving slowly.

It is the Hauliday (def) the over-indulgent time of year when the term “package” is less pornographic than plentiful  season, indicated by the various flimsy snowflakes and myriad red and white accoutrements dangling from every light pole, flagpole, fence pole and North Pole situated above and around the car park area. Like the homeless man whose bags spill about his stolen shopping cart, the women here carry overstuffed packages on their way home to mollycoddle their offspring’s desire for immediate gratification with the added consequence of developing a generation of selfish and seemingly entitled youth.  They’ve just suffered the Mallestation (def) the groping, shoving, bumpfest during holiday shopping and Storture (def) the unbearable wait for the cash register during the holidays.

As I travel down the first aisle in search of a temporary home for my vehicle, I experience the disturbing sexual intrigue of scanning automobile rear-ends, the strangely erotic tailpipes and gently slanted trunks making this trespass seem alarmingly sensual. The thought crosses my mind that I may be entering into auto-erotica – a term I’ve obviously struggled to understand ever since I gained a hold of my license right about the same time I reached puberty.  The license plates entice me like secret phone numbers and I often find shameful R-rated humor in the phrases “are you pulling out or heading in?” and “did you find your spot?” Eventually, I just settle in and look for a place to park, and then experience the feeling a dog gets when you fake a tennis ball throw – over, and over, and over.  Note: Based on the number of un-placarded cars in the handicapped spaces, stupidity may be a disability.

In these Lewis and Clark moments, direction is everything.  Going Northward, the one hand on the wallet, lips pursed in a holiday whistle, head bobbing to and fro, brisk and anticipating giddy-up of the excited shopper heading toward purchasing paradise. Contrast this with the southerly stagger from store to Sedan, key dangling from fingers, bulging biceps toting gifts galore, and the frowned face of shopping strain that appears from one who desperately needs to find one’s car before one’s arms succumb to the weight of the bags, the same expression one gets when confronted with a sudden and unexpected bout of intestinal distress. For thirty minutes, I traverse the vehicular labyrinth, my anticipatory gaze peering above my steering wheel like a Ziggy comic, in search of some evacuees eyes – the recurring climactic feeling of accomplishment, followed by the gut-wrenching realization that she is simply walking on to the next aisle and fourteen other cars now have dibs on her spot, has become almost Greek in its arc. I pray for the lone gazelle. Moments later, I spot her on the plain, strolling slowly behind the other perambulators, keys in hand, the unbalanced packages causing that awkward limp/waddle as she pushes one bag with her leg in order to create space for the next step, her glossy white knuckles announcing frailty, beacon-like in their luster. As she struggles, she is prairie-dogging for her car and I stop at the entrance to the aisle, my internal weather vane spinning with curiosity as to whether she’ll turn east or west. Halfway down, she stops and I hit the accelerator, pushing close, waiting for that elusive but liberating beep and epilepsy-inducing blip of the brake lights as the car alarm announces her arrival. I tap the automatic window button and drop my glass, “you pulling out,” my giggling schoolboy red-face presumably disguised by the cold air now hitting my cheeks. She nods, and for a moment I am relieved, the suffering nearly complete. But then, the charcoal in the stocking of my Christmas spirit, “… if I can just find my car.” Her words land upon my window like yellow snow and the pain sets in once again. There she is, ten feet in front of me, hands to the sky, head tilted back, turning circles like Gene Kelly in Singin’ in the Rain, her tiny Uggs-covered feet spinning and kicking wrapping paper from the sides of her bags like a yardworker’s pick-up truck. I uproot from this monkey cage and move on to other species of entertainment.

At last, I see my parking messiah, the lone man headed down the walkway, intent. Armed with three full bags and an attitude, the longish gait now striding with conviction, the left arm-swing aggressively pulling him to his vehicle, the gaze locked-in like a military pilot. This is a man who wants to go home, Now! I move the requisite twenty feet from his back end and wait for those glorified white taillights to signal his departure. And I wait…and wait…and wait. In these moments, there is an expectation of civility, the social tactfulness which implies that a car, which sits politely behind your rear bumper with a blinking signal and carrying a driver whose face resembles a combination of incredible surprise, overwhelming joy, and the three-sighed exclamation of pure frustration is probably, nay, certainly, waiting for you to get on your merry way. But then, we all have our routines, and this man’s practice includes securing his seat belt, the cell-phone plug-in, hair check, lips purse, cheek turn and admire, below-chin observation, followed by a reach back into the back seat to retrieve some evidently critically and immediately important reading material –although clearly it is the diagrammatically designed instruction booklet for his child’s new bicycle, the irreverent bastard – a slight recline of the driver’s seat, a glance at the mirrors, and the final shift into gear to engage those gorgeous white lights which shine like beacons calling me to Valhalla. He pulls back slowly, the sweeping arc beautifully managed, missing my front bumper by a clear yard, then stops for one final vanity check. Close to implosion, I allow him this one last gesture, the compassionate forgiveness of a man blessed with an open parking space during Christmas shopping season. And then he pulls forward, as do I, edging delicately towards my spot, my sanctuary, my caressing cradle of carhood, to see the front grill of another car pulling forward from the far side of my parking spot, and now fully entrenched in my space – MY SPACE! – and staring at me with a friendly smile through the front windshield of his ’04 Camry, a smile that suggests he never saw me coming, that he feels guilty about taking this spot, and that there is no fucking way he is moving. Christmas is about merriment, joy, the unadulterated season of giving. Although I am crying, I do experience this merriment, this joy, and the sense of giving, mostly now with my finger, straight up, from the middle, four soldiers down, the clearly denoted symbol of the holiday which all shoppers, merchants, mothers and fathers, and now parking lot victims understand. Bah Humbug!

By ccxander