Birthday Presents Wrapped in Christmas Paper Suck


Tubesocks are not a very good Christmas present

Tubesocks are not a very good Christmas present

After the maelstrom that was NaNoWriMo, I believe it’s time for a personal post. Those can be tricky. [Apparently?] I see so many people who wear a kind of online ambiguity mask or something. You know, they Tweet about ‘the man’ or ‘the kid’ or create aliases for their family members. I read blogs where the home location is left intentionally vague—like the author is in the Witness Protection Program or something.

I assume this is for protection? Or privacy? Sure, there are stalkers and psychos hunting folks down, but come on. I have four words: too many Lifetime movies.

So, what shall I rant on / divulge today? Well, the holidays are here. That’s a pretty boring, overdone topic. Although, I could post a how-to video on creating your own 7′ store display Christmas tree using scrap wood, a nailgun & diluted acrylic paint. Eh, maybe just a picture:

Total cost to construct: 25 cents. Ornaments are antique items for sale.

Total cost to construct: 25 cents. Ornaments are antique items for sale.

Okay, here’s a conversation topic that is often broached around this time of year. My birthday is on December 25th. It’s pretty much a non-event nowadays, but as a kid, it totally sucked. Here’s why, as filtered through the mind of a little, bratty Lucas. [Who, at that time, was known as Benjie.]

1. Birthday presents wrapped in Santa paper are  stupid. Return of the Jedi would be way cooler. Who wants a birthday present (unless it’s an awesome Transformer!) wrapped in the repeating image of some fat, bearded guy?

2. Pecan pies—with candles inserted—are poser birthday cakes. They’re not cake. They’re pie. My brother got his own, personalized cake in June. At the park. Not in Aunt Joyce’s old-lady-smelling sitting room.

3. Everybody gets presents. And a most of them are waaay better than the hokey birthday junk I got. Probably because you spent all your money buying fancy Christmas presents.  We all get to open stuff. On this special day. My birthday. :: pout ::

4. Dual-purpose presents suck pinecones. “Now, Benjie, this is for both your birthday and Christmas.” Also, “3 pairs of the socks are for Christmas, and the other three are for your birthday.” Thanks, grandmama. I love striped tubesocks.  :: big, fake hug ::

Yeah, I want to pop bratty Benjie in his mouth too. Of course, he was raised right [as the saying goes down in Pine Level, NC.] For the record, little Benjie never got mad at baby Jesus or anything; it wasn’t his fault. And sharing a birthday with, like, the Savior of the world was kind of special in its own way. [No, no. We won’t go into the actual pagan origins of the celebration date right now…]

As we get older, holidays become more about checklists and schedules and trying to please everyone. Overspending, stress, a strings of lights which stops working AFTER all the ornaments are on the tree, etc, etc. We get busy about juggling how to make it to all the different family members’ homes for the celebrations. Divorced parents make this harder. In-laws make it harder still. Divorced in-laws? That’s stab-me-with-a-reindeer-antler hard. [Because, you know, they’re not even pointy…]

While the bratty, selfish part of Benjie has [mostly] grown up, there is a facet of his personality that still lives all childlike and innocent inside me. Benjie was sentimental, nostalgic, willing to forget about the Christmas-Birthday heartbreaks and find the magical moments in the holiday.

I know, I know. Christmas Magic. So trite. Melodramatic. Pretty damn Lifetime movie in and of itself.

But it’s truly a characteristic of mine. I could try to wax poetic and express it in soft-lit, quiet snowfall terms. Instead, I’d like to reference a movie. You’ve all seen it. Probably quintillions of times. Most people love it, but I do know a few [idiots] who detest it.

A Christmas Story.

With Ralphie’s obsession for a Red Ryder, the evil Scut Farkus and his toadie: Grover Dill, flagpole licking, deranged Easter Bunny pajamas, the glow of electric sex gleaming in the window, and Randy laying there like a slug. How can anyone hate that flick?

It’s un-American. And downright blasphemous.

Beyond all the amplified, nostalgic imagery, there is a scene that speaks to the good, wholesome kernel of little Benjie inside me. It’s towards the end when Mom & Dad are chilling by the tree with their Christmas wine. It’s quiet. The snow is falling. The tree is glowing. All is well.

I look for those moments each Christmas. Those gentle moments make little Benjie—and adult Lucas—all squishy inside. During those times, there is no selfishness over pecan pies or tubesocks. There is just that serenity that nestles in if I allow it.

And I always let it in.

Well, I went to the Christmas Magic place in this post. That was unexpected, but I’m alright with it. But what would a good post be without a nice punch at the end?

How about a clip from the Chop Suey Palace Co?

Fa ra ra ra ra

Happy holidays. And may none of your presents be wrapped in birthday paper.

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13 thoughts on “Birthday Presents Wrapped in Christmas Paper Suck

  1. One year, when he was five, my fiance got a little brother for Christmas. While they were at the hospital, a mouse got in his stocking and ate his Snickers bar. He has never forgiven his brother. 😉

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  2. Oh, that totally sucks. My daughter’s birthday is on Dec 16th, but we are always careful to buy birthday wrapping paper and birthday decorations. Of course, she’s never had a birthday without a Christmas tree looming over her.

    Now my husband…that’s a different story. His birthday is on Christmas, but since he grew up in a culture that didn’t celebrate Christmas, we don’t really do anything special to mark his birthday. He gets his birthday gifts under the tree wrapped in Ho Ho Ho paper. No birthday cake either.

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    • My daughter’s birthday is on the 18th. We just had her party this past Saturday to give a little distance between her actual birthday celebration & all the Christmas festivities. With Daddy’s experience, we–of course–make sure she gets the benefit of a celebration all her own. 😉

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  3. There’s a lot to love in this post. From the ambivalence people have to be real online to A Christmas Story, it is all well-timed. I just watched that movie with my friends for the second year in a row and we were discussing how people who don’t get it are really sad. For me the holidays can be especially hard. “That’s stab-me-with-a-reindeer-antler hard. [Because, you know, they’re not even pointy…]” LOL. You killed me with that, in a good way, I’m not actually dead, obviously. BTW, you should celebrate your half-birthday instead.

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    • Lol. The [Because, you know, they’re not even pointy…] line got added in the edit. I had a plot hole there. Thankfully, I realized that reindeer have big, velvet-covered racks before it was too late. Shewww! That was a close one.

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  4. Holiday birthdays suck when you’re a kid, but when you’re older people sort of always remember your birthday. Right? Maybe that’s just a thing I say because my birthday is on Valentines. I almost ended up being called Valentino, but my father went ahead and gave me his name before my mother could decide. Good thing too, because a redhead, named Valentino, born on Valentine’s day is a recipe for the anti-Christ. But I’ll be honest, I always said to myself at least I wasn’t born on Christmas.

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  5. Clearly the best kind of gift is the kind that you would have picked up yourself on self indulgent impulse, but didn’t at the time because you suppressed your desire with intelligent reasoning, and so someone close sticks out their cash for the object instead as a tribute to the relationship you share. Not socks!

    Birthday on Christmas? That sucks. No matter how you look at it, you lose out on the selfish special time that the birthday is supposed to be all about. The image of a fat dude on repeat doesn’t help either. Nor do multi-purpose gifts. However, the little moments of joy do warm the heart, and when you reflect on your childhood as an adult you realize those moments were more special than any material gift…..and before this gets all mushy and unbearable, I gotta say – that’s one awesome Christmas tree!

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    • Meh, it was grandmama. They do stuff like that.

      On a sidenote: my household bowed out of the family name-drawing-gift exhange this year. Since everyone pretty much just bought one another a $50 gift card, it was kinda not really worth it.

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