Second Chance at the Holidays


It’s probably been a good five to six years now since the last time I remember Christmas feeling like Christmas. I don’t know when it started becoming more and more of a consumer holiday inside my house. Maybe it was the Christmas we got a fake tree instead of a real one. Or maybe it was the holiday when Santa’s handwriting couldn’t more obviously be my Mom’s.

But despite all the crap Christmas gets for not being Jesus-centered and a reason for stores to go on sale and for people to buy things, I like Christmas. It will always be my favorite holiday. Why, you ask? I live in Southern California, it doesn’t even snow down here, never will I be able to experience a truly white Christmas in this godforsaken place. Snobby people make long lines in department stores to make sure they get presents for everybody on their list. Children cry because they’re getting Guitar Hero World instead of Rock Band 2.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not from your average family who has a turkey and ham and mashed potatoes Christmas Eve to wake up on Christmas morning to the fact that Santa left you five presents underneath that brightly ornamented Christmas tree. I’ve had my share of shitty Christmas mornings where I woke up to no present underneath a nonexistent Christmas tree in a cold, undecorated house.

And despite my unforgiving pastimes, my favorite part of Christmas will always be the presents. No, not receiving them, as many might believe, but giving them. I like giving presents to people who deserve them. I like giving people more than just a stupid gift card, an actual gift that they can smile over and thank me for. I’m not rich, and I don’t have much to give, but I like coming up with the perfect present to give to someone that reminds them that yeah, Christmas isn’t just food or family or Jesus’ birth [which didn’t even happen on December 25th].

Christmas is about remembering the important people who have done something for you in your life. Who have made some kind of impact on your life to the point that while you’re passing by a crowded store, you see Sharper Image’s sales window has a can opener/shower radio/lighter/egg beater that you and your co-worker were talking about inventing during a water cooler break one day and buying it as a present for him just because it was something neat that reminded you of him and if it wasn’t for this guy, there would have been an ass kicking going on because of something you forgot to do for the powers-that-be. Maybe this doesn’t make sense to you. Does this make sense to you?

But it gives me a reason to listen to my friends’ whining and complaining in July about how they need noise cancelling earphones because they simply could not stand that six hour road trip with their family. And if you happen to tell me that the one thing you could not have enough of in your life are erasable pens, guess who’s getting a box for Christmas?

Maybe it’s just because presents have always been something on a more personal level for me than for other people. As I come up with presents this year, trying to figure out what to get people on my extremely limited budget, I came up with a few presents that wouldn’t cost so much, but for some reason this year they feel half-assed. I don’t remember what Christmas feels like anymore and the fact that I can’t feel the way I used to makes me bitter.

For me, Christmas is feeling warm and fuzzy on the inside despite the 42 degree weather outside. It’s not being tired of cheesy Christmas carols even though they repeat Jingle Bell Rock every hour on the hour. It’s snuggling underneath the covers and dreaming complacently of your heart’s desires. It’s giving without expecting anything in return and finding out that love comes in small packages like a pack of erasable pens. That, my friend, is Christmas.

And this year, it’s completely dead to me.