Friday, December 22, 2006

"What Christmas Means To Me", December 1, 1992

Many thanks to Jonathan Mazur, digital pack rat and my hero, for producing this gem from somewhere in the archives at my request. I have copied it verbatim from the email I sent to him in response to his traditional email survey, What does Christmas Mean to Me. And without further ado, we whisk you away to 1992...


Subject: RE: The Fourth (And Final) Annual X-Mas Survey!!!!

dear jonathan ,
herewith is my response to your christmas survey. i also passed this on to some of my friends since i figured you would enjoy as many responses as you could get. also, i hope you had a good time in london. nj was very dull as usual.

I love Christmas Day, but I don't like the Christmas season because I hate going shopping with my mother, and that ends up being what Christmas means to all of us, starting the day after the day after Thanksgiving, since it takes us at least 36 hours to recover from all that food, trying to shop for every person under the sun, whom we may or may not know well but have to buy a Christmas gift for anyway, because she is a perfectionist, and tries to get into everyone's head and figure out what object would make them the happiest person in the whole world, which will tell the recipient that we are loving caring people who don't just buy any old thing at the mall like everyone else does, but who instead give careful thought to each person's personality, likes and wants, even if we really have no idea what they are, all within a certain budget range which we end up going over anyway, since to my mother, a sale item means you should get 2 things instead of just one which negates the effect of the bargain, and which is different for each recipient and if they are under the age of 20 has a lot to do with what their parents bought me, which she already knows since they all tell each other what to get their kids anyway, which usually ends up being clothes, which no one ever wants, and if they do want them, then they definitely want to pick them out on their own, since no one wants what their mother picks for them to wear, and especially not what their mother picks for their friends to buy for them, and all this deliberation is very irritating and can last all night, since suggestions are always ignored even though she says a hundred times per minute, 'well, if you would just help me out a little here, we could go home' which we all know is not true, since we would only go to another store anyway, home is just a dream to cherish on the escalator full of bighairs, especially if you are, as I always am, the designated 'heavy winter coats, purse full of soda cans, cigarettes and catalogs, shopping bag full of another purse and ten more catalogs, not to mention an extra pair of shoes and a snack for my dad' carrier, which can get stressful and life-endangering, not to mention mood-altering when the department store is approximately 100 degrees Fahrenheit because the store doesn't want its shoppers to get cold even though they ALL brought their coats inside with them like we did, and since if I try to dress comfortably I inevitably get the 'why don't you ever dress nicely for your father and I, we deserve to see some of the things we buy you, I know you don't dress like that at school, you look like an orphan, I hope I don't see anybody I know' lecture, to which of course there is no response, so I'm always dressed to the teeth and very uncomfortable, so of course when I get naturally cranky after 5 hours of shifting from one foot to the other, shifting the bags from one hand to the other, and watching my dad sitting on the 'man' chair in the ladies lingerie department reading his newspaper and rubbing his temples and sighing loudly every 7 minutes, looking like the Christmas Martyr, I try to urge her along since it's now 10:47 and we have actually purchased nothing although I have an armful of potential gifts in addition to all my other burdens, and the store closes at 11:00 and even if I do get her to finish in this department, she will only go to another one half a store away, while I stand there buying all the crap she has collected as the store PA announces that the store is now closed, and all the doors are closed except for the one that gives out into the car-jacking section of the parking lot, and we run around trying to find our mother while dad runs for the car so we can all drive to the diner together, since we haven't even eaten dinner yet because eating before shopping makes her sleepy and she doesn't get as much done on a full stomach, although the rest of us need to eat every four hours or we get embolisms, which, if you don't know, are similar to PMS of the brain, and one of us at least is very conscious that every bit of food and fat eaten after 9pm stays right where it doesn't belong but has the most friends, so how am I supposed to fit into my new Christmas outfit, or maintain even a semblance of Christmas spirit with all of these problems, except if I don't, then I get the 'how can you be so selfish, you are so lucky, think of all the people out there tonight who have nowhere to sleep, nothing to eat, and no Christmas to look forward to, you don't deserve any presents, I think I'll give everything I bought for you (admittedly, enough to keep a small orphanage happy) to the Salvation Army' lecture, which is enough to make anyone wish they were an orphan, and contemplate the odds of getting reassigned to a new family if you try to get lost in the mall at the age of 21, which then makes you feel guilty for being so selfish at Christmas time, but really the best gift of all for me, if she only knew it, would be to not have to go Christmas shopping with her, but I can't say that of course, so I resolve to be perky and happy, which lasts all of ten minutes, which is when mom asks for the fortieth time, 'what do you think I should get Little Sam for Christmas', because if there's one thing I know I don't know, and never have known, it is what a 16-year-old boy wants, for Christmas, or any other occasion, but even worse is then getting assigned to purchase Little Sam's request ( and please don't ask why he's called Little Sam) because the thought of having to go to the record store in the mall where I am always greeted with pitying looks for my hair impairment makes me shudder, and having to look for the latest Whitesnake box set when under ordinary circumstances I wouldn't be caught dead within 200 feet of Whitesnake or anything they were responsible for, and I sit in the back seat of the car listening to Mannheim Steamroller Christmas music to my eternal shame, and I think to myself, 'This is what Christmas is really all about - earning your gifts in Shopping Mall Hell, the only place Dickens never took us, where every new day until Christmas holds its own special torment in store, and there will never be any escape, not even when you marry like your sister, because then you will want to go with her, to make sure marriage has not altered your taste in any drastic, unbecoming-to-a-Gronroos manner, which traditionally is to overbuy, overstress, overspend, and overwrap, so if you think its bad now, you know not whereof you speak.' This is what Christmas means to me.

1 comment:

JAM said...

It was totally worth the effort. I love this piece.