Sunday, December 25, 2016

My favorite holiday

Found this on a blog I used to write and decided to share it here too.

Hands down, my favorite holiday is Christmas. There are several reasons why this is true.

I still believe in Santa

I'm serious. Not like a wide-eyed, three-year-old kid believes in Santa. In a healthy, adult, electricity-still-feels-like-magic, it-could-happen way. It feels wrong to give up all hope that Santa exists, even though lots of killjoys like to post facts about how Santa would liquefy if he actually tried to deliver presents around the world in one night. Or his stomach would explode from eating all the cookies kids leave out. Whatever. What I'm holding onto -- more than sleighs, elves, and presents that magically appear -- is a feeling I had when I was a kid. My brother David and I would get up WAY too early (it was ALWAYS dark when we slid out of bed) and creep to the living room to see if Santa had been by yet. I remember the wide-eyed wonder and gasping aloud at all the unwrapped presents waiting for us. I remember the year David received a bright yellow fireman's helmet, complete with a light and siren. He flipped a switch and the living room lit up as red light bounced off the walls. The helmet's insanely loud bleating probably scared the shit out of our parents. I think it was 2:00 a.m., which means they'd probably been in bed for an hour. And they wonder why they aren't grandparents yet.

I no longer work in retail

For years, I hated Christmas. HATED. The day I got to spend with my family didn't mean shit because I'd been at work the day before, would be in the store the next day, and had been dealing with the oncoming holiday since at least August. This was even in the '90s, long before stores started opening on Black Friday at 3:00 a.m. and before the Internet took over the entire world (or even existed if we're talking about my teen years). All I knew of Christmas was long lines, mean -- MEAN!! -- people, and numbly sliding boxes of toys and books into dark sacks so surprises wouldn't be ruined. I remember reading a manual when I was working in retail management that explained what days I would have to work in order to qualify for holiday pay. It was always December 24 and 26. No excuses. The instant I realized I was always going to always be screwed out of a decent holiday with my family, I knew I wasn't going to pursue managing my own store. No customer is worth that shiz.

David comes home

My brother has lived out of state since the end of the '90s, which barely seems possible. He might make it home twice a year, but usually it's only at Christmas. Several of my friends can attest to my excitement when December rolls around. You know how it is when you're apart from someone you love. You don't want to waste a second of their visit, but of course he needs to spend time with my parents and with his friends. Generally the 10 or so days he's home go by in a flash and then he's gone again and my heart is broken, but I hold onto the moments we get to chill in the kitchen while he cooks, or when we chat while I wrap his presents for him. (Otherwise my parents get presents that appear to have been wrapped by drunk toddlers.) It's weird to think of him as a man, but I guess he is. He'll be 38 next month, but of course he's always going to be the little brother I wrapped in a blanket and popped on the head with a pillow when we played Toothpaste, a short- and short-lived game we made up as kids. Yeah, we were kind of strange. Or maybe I was strange and he was gullible. Now he's a professional who lives halfway around the world, loves surfing, and talks about how he's starting to go bald. He'll be here in 29 days. I can't wait.

The house feels good

While David and my mom are in the kitchen cooking amazing things, Dad and I tend to putter around the house decorating. Dad sets out the candle holders and creche scenes that our family has owned since I was a kid. I'm tasked with adding and lighting tea lights, and both parents gripe at me and David to help decorate the tree. I like the way the house feels: it's warm, it smells great, all the comforting memorabilia makes an appearance, and, if we're lucky, it's snowing outside. There's something so great about stomping up the walk in messy boots, laden with bags, and being welcomed into the house as though I'm a long-lost traveler. To make my mother happy, I tend to stay over on Christmas Eve, even though it means seriously uncomfortable sleeping. A few years ago, it was a foldout couch with the inevitable bar that dug into my back. After the couch was replaced, it was the new couch that's covered in a fabric I can only describe as some combination of glue and Velcro. Last year, it was a creaky twin bed I feared I would fall off during the night. It's okay that I don't sleep well or much. I'm waiting up for Santa anyway.

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