“I told them I wanted either a brown sweater or a green sweater. I certainly did not want a brown and green sweater. It was hideous.”
“I was so excited. By its weight I knew exactly what was in the box. Ice skates. But inside there were girly figuring skating skates, not the hockey skates the boys wore. I tried them on and I never put them on again, even though I pretended I was happy.”
“A cowboy shirt! I was an Indian!”
I got a call last week from my sister who asked if our family gave presents at Christmas. It was surprising question: of course we did. How could she have forgotten the intense anticipation focused on the shiny packages under the aluminum tree? We opened presents on Christmas eve before going to midnight Mass. After we got home from church, in what every other night was an uninhabitable hour of darkness, we’d have a feast. I can picture candlelight. I am still enough on this side of the bend to know that there were no candles. Homemade bread, ham and turkey sandwiches. Miracle Whip. And wine; the only night of the year we drank wine. Mogen David, always that. Out there in the desolate plains, that syrupy concoction. The wonders of commerce. We thought it was great. Finally, off to bed, to wake up midmorning to the most anticlimactic day of the year. Maybe the century. Merry Christmas.
“I don’t remember a single present,” my sister said, and I tried to conjure a memory of one, and came up with nothing except a trace of disappointment. Shirts, belts, mostly things to wear. Certainly no books or records or anything conducive toward cementing our appraisal (mother’s) as the laziest kids in town. I guess there were no really awful ones either because we remember those better.
I’m a bust at giving gifts. And getting them, though I’ve gotten better at the comedia of pretending. “Oh, lovely, a pair of figure skates. Just what I wanted.” My average at hitting the sweet spot is comparable to a journeyman infielder. Around .240. Of course there is the elephant in the room; the herd of elephants. We all have entirely too much shit.
Too much. Last week during the half hour I worked on a curbside garden four different delivery truck pulled up and double-parked. Presents presents presents. Now the holiday is blessedly past, the recycling bins are vomiting cardboard, totally hung over.
But this is a new year, and that is not the image to leave you with. Instead here’s this: