Sunday, December 19, 2004

Walking Through a Weepy Wonderland 2: Revenge of the Ornaments!

Hello there. I know you, dear readers, have probably thought that after many parental admonitions, I would stop burdening you with tearful accounts of my progenitors' transgressions. Not so! Of course, the whole disastrous affair is partly my fault as well, and I know they are decent parents at the end of the day, but I'm only telling you these things now so that I don't have to remind you later and spoil my bitching. One can never bitch properly if one takes the blame.

Every year, we go through the same Christmas ritual - the week before Christmas, we set up our fake tree (it spares the environment, saves us money, and no pine needles need be cleaned afterwards), fill our 5-track CD player with our five favourite Christmas CDs and set it on Spiral (plays song #1 from the first CD, than #1 from the second CD, etc. etc.), and put up all our decorations. We use none of those glass balls, and our candy canes are always secreted on the space of the branches close to the trunk so that we can't get at them until Christmas is over.

Our ornaments tend to be a mixture of wooden miniature toys - wooden angels, wooden figures of Santa playing various musical instruments, rocking horses, boys on drums, the odd eccentric decorations that we receive as gifts from friends and relations - the fat ballerina, the heart-shaped mirror with my name scrawled on it in long-hardened glitter gel, the red and white felt birds in tiny golden cages (although the white one had long fallen off its perch), and old handmade ones that are wretched, but too dear to us to throw away - my sisters' laminated construction paper stars with their first-grade photos on them, along with numerous figures made out of various kinds of uncooked, spray-painted pasta.

I love going about the whole affair - listening (and often singing along to) the Christmas music, while hanging out with my family and joking while we convert an artificial representation of a pagan symbol into an artificial representation of a Christian symbol with our various knickknacks suspended on gold thread. There were years when Mum wouldn't do it, or when Sister One or Sister Two had a hissy fit and removed her presence from the activities, but I could never remember a year when I didn't help. I'm sure during the early years of my childhood development (ages 11 months - five years) I may have been a little reluctant to offer my decorative services in favour of running away and hiding, or else trying to pull the tree down around my ears, but once my mind could grasp the meaning of the word "tradition", I like to believe that I was wholeheartedly devoted to it.

Count this year out, then. Today, Sister One had a belt exam for Tai Kwon Do (she's moving up from green striped to solid green, apparently) in a town that is about half an hour away from our own. Loyal parents that they were, Mum and Dad agreed to drive and spectate the entire 3-hour event (I passed - I had to study, an activity which, er, I will begin to do shortly. I promise.). We were all rather late risers, so at 10:30, everyone realized they had to hurry and get showered, dressed, and decorate the tree before Mum, Dad and Sister One (I wasn't sure if Sister Two would be going) had to leave for the exam. We rushed to our respective showers, but Mum got to hers first, than Sister One, so I had to wait. While in my room, I heard someone start playing Christmas music downstairs. I grew rather suspicious (and rightly so), but I clung to my (now proven to be wrong) assumption that my family, who were aware of my devotion to this annual activity (yet another wrong assumption) would alert me to any early commencement of decoration.

Of course, after waiting through two showers, I had my own, got dressed, and went downstairs - to discover the entire tree was finished. My family had not waited. My family had done it all without me. Oh, they'd left "a few" decorations for me to add as a paltry consolation - six of the cheapest ornaments we had, that were gaudy enough to give my family members pause as to where, exactly, they could put them without attracting any undue attention to them. Don't get me wrong. After much thought, I'm not really angry at my parents for doing this. They had very little time before they had to leave. They couldn't wait for everyone to start. They assumed that I'd respond to the Christmas music the way Pavlov's dog responded to the bell and that any absence on my part was entirely of my own choosing. And they had, after all, thought they'd told everyone to start while Mother had her shower first.

I'm just surprised. Surprised that they'd think I would refuse to participate in such a wonderful activity without giving any discernable reason. What if I had fallen on my head and been knocked unconscious in my bedroom? They should have checked! Surprised that they'd think I would be perfectly mollified by the "honour" of being able to put six - only six! - of the ornaments on the tree, after everyone else had finished (although, given the ridiculous alternative - taking all of the decorations down and starting again at a later time that was convenient to everybody - I can be a little tolerant of that). Surprised that they would not remember my enthusiasm for the holidays of previous years. They've known me for eighteen years! How - how could they just have forgotten that? I was especially surprised when they had the gall to suggest (after I'd made the only response I thought was appropriate at the time for such a nasty discovery - bursting into tears and fleeing to my room) that I'd ruined the whole experience for everyone. My reaction was bad, yes, and it wasn't entirely their fault - but knowing that isn't suddenly going to make me any less miserable. I am miserable. I didn't get to decorate the tree. Granted, it was due to a miscommunication on my part (what Mother said: "Everyone have a shower, and start decorating the tree!" What I heard: "Everyone have a shower, so we can start decorating the tree!"), but knowing that it's my fault and that there's nothing I can do about it doesn't fix anything. The tree is finished - and not by me. How's any of this supposed to make me feel any better?

For some reason, my parents expect me to be happy now. But I'm not. Christmas 2004 is officially tainted for me now, because I will never be able to look at that tree without remembering that I didn't get to help with it. I think God was trying to spite me today, because Sister One's Tamagotchis (little virtual pets that programed to know the date and time) started making Christmas trees of their own on their tiny square screens - while mine made a poo, and not a Christmas Poo either. Bah! Humbug!

In conclusion, however, I want to get one thing straight. I don't hate my parents. They're wonderful people. This whole thing was made out of a huge mistake and miscommunication. I don't even really blame my parents for this. The main reason for writing this is that it makes me feel better - and I needed an outlet to articulately express my misery at having missed this holiday treat.


  1. Christmas 2004 is officially tainted??? Oh puh-leeeese!!

    Laugh and the world laughs with you, darling. Cry and you cry alone.

    I appreciate that you feel miserable, dear child. But what I've spent the last 18 years trying to teach you is that an adult doesn't have to act on everything she feels.

    If a family activity is really important to you, don't take yourself off to another part of the house! Stay where the action is, and you'll be in on it. You could have done quite a bit of decorating before your shower, after all.

    I love you, and I'm sure with a little effort we can rescue your tainted holiday.

    *hugs & kisses*

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