Christmas Eve Eve. Dec. 23rd. It's here. Whoop de do.
I used to anticipate Christmas so much. I guess every kid did. The entire month of December was a huge excitement ramp-up to the payday of the 25th. School was out, there could even be snow outside my door in Connecticut. Lots of candy, cookies. And presents for everyone.
I remember when I was in 3rd grade, I wanted a Transformers watch for Christmas so bad. The Transformers rocked. I watched the cartoon nearly religously after school, the show was paired nicely with G.I. Joe as an hour long block of greatness. The similarity of these two shows is an uncanny coincidence, two evil leaders always at odds with each other (Megatron and Starscream, Serpetnor and Cobra Commander [voiced by the same guy as Starscream, I'd bet], rogue evil group loyal to their leader (Dreadnoughts, Insecticons.) The plots were like a kid soap opera, an ever evolving storyline detailing the struggles between the Autobots and the Decepticons (or Joe and Cobra.) My favorite episodes were the five parter story arcs that spanned a whole week's worth of shows and usually added characters (read: more toy sales) like the Dinobots or the Constructicons. I added to their stories by acting out intricate scenarios in my bedroom, complete with all the battles and betrayals that two rival groups of toys could have (I had more Autobots so I had to have a few switch sides to even out the numbers, I was nothing if not a fair God.)
Wow, I just got way off track there. Transformers will do that. Anyway, that Christmas in 198?, I had a list of toys and shit that I would recite in my prayers every night (yeah, I prayed back then.) One of the most hoped-for was a Transformers watch, which I thought would be the penultimate time-keeping device of my short life. It was detachable robot that I could wear on my wrist. Hello? That's freaking cool.
I couldn't sleep the night before Christmas. I went to bed way early so that I could bring the morning all that much closer. My eyes were wide open in the darkness of my room, imagining all the wonders of my Transformers watch. I don't know how it happened but all of a sudden, the sun was out and it was 5:57 am. I ran down the stairs to check out my shit.
My parents were different, they never wrapped the gifts from Santa. I guess they were tired of the expense of wrapping paper (the U.S. had a huge wrapping paper shortage back then) but I think they were just lazy. They just piled up everything for me and my siblings in separate piles and left a little notecard scribbled with my Dad's handwriting that read, "To Greg, From Santa." Genius.
So I could tell right away that, although I got tons of shit, I didn't get my Transformers watch. All the anticipating for that whole month was wasted. I felt like I got punched in the stomach by Santa, that fat fuck. Why wouldn't he give me the Tranformers watch I prayed for every night? What's the point of praying if you don't get the shit you ask for for christmas? On top of that, I found out later at school that Mark Swensen got a fucking Transformers watch and he didn't even want one. Upon examining Mark's watch, I also found out that the watch was pretty lame, the robot didn't detach very easily and the display was just that one line digital thing all cheapo watches had back in the 80s. But still, Santa should have gotten his act together and gotten me one so I could have hated it on my own, instead of only hating Mark Swensen.
Christmas was a huge event when you were 7 years old. A year seemed like a really long time, and Christmas was the only time you got a whole bunch of new stuff (along with your birthday.) Somewhere along the line, Christmas a got less important. In high school and college, Christmas still meant time off from school, but I found myself longing for that "Christmassy" feeling of excitement felt in my bones. Sometimes, it didn't come until midnight mass and I smelled the mixture of incense and evergreens. Sometimes it didn't come at all. Twenty years later, I guess Christmas still means traveling to see family, eating cookies and candy canes, but the only excitement I have now is experienced vicariouly through the little nieces and nephews I'm going to visit. They look forward to Christmas as I once did. They still have the wide-eyed love of anything red and green. They still anticipate the coming of December 25th with an excitement and glee that I have lost.
I suppose I need to have kids pretty soon or I'm going to end up being one of those characters in literature who curse the holiday with vehemence. I'm beginning to see why there are so many suicides during Christmas. They all must long for that feeling they had as a child, only to have it replaced by lonliness and the terror of growing up. It makes sense to me now.
Merry Christmas. Bah Humbug.