Two thousand and five years ago, a tiny little Jew-boy was born and changed everything. His name was Jesus. At first no one gave a damn, save three Eastern men (go figure), but time would tell. This little boy would shine.
Nowadays, we celebrate his birthday. There aren’t many people who are now passed on where we celebrate their birthday. Holidays like July 4th (birth of America), New Year’s Day (birth of a new year), and Valentine’s Day (birth of cheesy arrow-shooting angels and retarded candy-related puns). It just so happens that Jesus got so bloody popular, being the Son of God and all, that he made the list.
Unlike Thanksgiving, where you exchange over-cooked turkey chunks and needles with your burned-out uncle, Christmas is celebrated by exchanging presents. It’s common to give a present to anyone you “love” or people you want to have power over. If you just “love” someone, you get them a $4 calendar 18 days after Christmas under the guise that ‘it was in your room back in Madison the whole time.’ If you want power over someone, you buy them the sweetest, most expensive present you can imagine them wanting or using. To be most effective at this, it helps to stalk the person first to garner enough information about them to be good at this.
I’ve never been good at Christmas. I “love” more people than I want power over, so I usually get people crappy, after-thought gifts. This is not to say that my coloring book pictures were crappy after-thoughts. I love my grandma and Aunt Sue. It’s just that it seems that I’m cheap. This year, however, was a banner year for me and giving. As far as getting presents is concerned, this year was a drought.
Every year, after mass, we head over to my Grandma Rausch’s for a meal and present exchange. This year was no different. My Aunt Sue usually has a very carefully constructed and orchestrated series of riddles, puzzles, poetry, or games to taunt us, her nieces and nephews, before giving us our presents. This year was no different, except that Sue gave Dan and I (being the eldest) our presents first, with no pomp or circumstance. That was our reward for the game this year, Charades.
The rules were complicated, and no one really understood them. You had to first act out the person whose name you had drawn and then you had to act out the location of their present. Simple enough except when none of your cousins is really outrageous enough to pantomime about. I drew Stephanie’s name. Stephanie is quite the little girl. Stephanie and I have never gotten along much, as our maturity levels are almost identical. You’d think a five year old would be more mature.
Alas, this game lasted for a good deal of time. The only major wrinkles were that Stephanie seemed to think that every present after hers was hers, too, and my Grandma’s charade. Grandma didn’t pay much attention to Sue’s instructions, and we had no idea what she was acting out.
Then we went home. All of us, but Bryce, were present. The presents I gave were stellar. I gave my mother a VHS of “Princess Bride”, my father a gold calendar (when they were expensive), my brother an “Unseen Archives” book on John Lennon, and my sisters a Beatles’ calendar for them to share. What a great guy I am.
Bryce really cashed in. He got a baritone, a guitar, the book from me, a new car, an elephant, and two trips to Disneyland. Molly got a candy machine, a Beatles’ cd, a new puppy, and $1,000. Brenna got a used Kleenex and half a Barbie. What did I get?
Well, the first thing I got was from Molly. She got me a cheap pen with multi-coloured feathers on the top and bobble eyes. Can we say “crappy after-thoughtï¿½? From my brother I got a “Happy Tree Friends” DVD. The bad part about this was that it was not wrapped, and he gave it to me days early. Where’s the cheer in that? I got nothing from Brenna (go figure). The rest of my presents I got from my parents collectively.
For Christmas I asked for two things. I asked for (1) a new guitar (or money for said guitar) and (2) the special edition of “Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers” DVD. My first gift was a compass. This was a gag gift that my mother told me she was going to buy. Then I opened my next package. It was heavy, it was Lord of the Rings, it was wrong. She got me the “Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring” deluxe special edition set. I didn’t want bookends and I already had the DVD. I also got raw horse meat, a pretty nice camera I guess, and the Asian flu.
I was severely let down. God himself got gold, scented candles, and baby oil on the first Christmas. Even Brenna got that half a Barbie she wanted. I guess, for a little bit, I felt sorry for her, and I felt a bit of an affinity with her. We both got the raw end of the Yule-tide deal.
I’m still thankful, though.