It might surprise those just getting to know me that I’m a Christmas freak. You don’t really see it coming, I’m told, when you meet me in, say, April or May. If asked, I’m sure your first impression of me wouldn’t be “full of cheer” unless I was in a good mood or had just had some sort of sweet. I am known for my sarcasm, my humourous rants, and my swearing at inanimate objects (such as two-way zippered mother fucking coats), not for my good will towards men or general attitude of peace on Earth.
Knowing that, I think it’s only fair (and slightly self-indulgent) to explain how I went from The Grinch to…well, the Grinch still, but post heart growth, cutting the roast beast with all the Whoville gang. What better way to update this blog finally than to talk about Christmas, anyway?
The Ghost of Christmas Past
I used to get up at five o’clock on Christmas morning. I had hardly slept at all, even with the tiring event of Christmas Eve church having happened the night previous, my stress of being in the choir (one time we had to hold candles!) not working to put me to sleep. I would eagerly spy the stocking at the foot of my bed and gamble if I could manage to open it without anyone hearing and getting mad that I had started without them. I’d go to the bathroom and flush the toilet maliciously, to wake the household, making eye contact with my bleary-eyed parents to make sure they knew I knew they were awake. There was no escape–Christmas was happening and it was happening at five thirty am, damn it!
When Nanny was alive, the process then spread, and I’d barrel down the stairs to go and get her, hauling that poor eighty-some year old woman back up to the living room with the tree and demanding she sit. I’d then plunk down on the carpet in front of the tree and wait until everyone graced us with their (ridiculously slow) presence and gift-opening could happen.
Those bits were the best bits of Christmas.
I don’t remember the Christmas right after my grandmother died, but the one after that was in our new home which didn’t have a lot of room for a Christmas tree. The picture above was taken there, in fact, and that was the full width of the room. I woke up the same, early as ever, excited as ever, but there was something different. Something missing.
From that Christmas on, we always felt it. Or lacked feeling it, I wasn’t sure. But there would be a point where we all were done unwrapping gifts and then there would be a quiet where we felt an absence. While it ought to have gotten shorter, the pause seemed to get longer as the years went on. Christmas became something sad and awkward. It became something I didn’t want to get excited for, because I knew what was coming. I knew the silence would be there and no matter what I gave or got, it would weigh down on us more heavily than the turkey we’d have for dinner that day. The pause ate up the day, and I began to skip the holiday in my heart. I loved Christmas specials and cards and all, but the day was dismal. You can’t spend a whole month getting jolly to only come crashing down on the day it was all meant for, so I didn’t.
The Ghost of Christmas Present
Then I went to university, and Christmas became two separate events. It became the season I so love and the visit home. I could go to Christmas parties in St.John’s, enjoying snow and all the egg nog I could drink, to then come home to old friends to enjoy more festivities before the pause. I could celebrate myself silly, just get it out of my system, before it was sucked out.
With my leaving home, something else changed as well.
The pause got shorter. I hadn’t thought it could, I had thought Christmas would always be a time for mourning a loss so long ago now. It changed, however. Something switched with two grown up children out of the house and Christmas became more about having us back than what we didn’t have before. The silence was still there, but it passed quickly. Last year, it was nearly unnoticed.
All I had to do is leave. Who knew?
The Ghost of Christmas Yet To Come
This year will be my first Christmas away from home. I don’t know how I’ll feel about it on the day, but right now, I’m pretty excited. I have decorations up, I have Charlie Brown’s Christmas’ soundtrack going, and I have high hopes that I’ll shake the pause this year completely. Christmas can be all about giving gifts and having awesome food and looking at beautiful trees, right? I’ve believed that all along, and it’s only now that I get to live it.
So that’s why I’m a Christmas Elf. I might start early with my celebrations, but it’s hard to wait to feel the happiness that Christmas brings, something I’ve missed out on for a long time. Loads of Christmas catching up to do!
As if I could get through this post with the Muppets. Merry Christmas!