Thursday, October 23, 2008

Starting to think of doing Christmas shopping

Hump Day
By Brian Cormier
Wednesday, October 22, 2008
Moncton Times & Transcript
Editorial Page

I've got a major case of wanting to start my Christmas shopping.

Now, before you scream obscenities at this page and turn it to read something that doesn't mention Christmas, hear me out. It's getting colder, so winter is on its way. As well, I'm seeing possible flurries in the weather forecast for today, so it's not such a ridiculous idea that our minds are now turning to Jolly Ol' St. Nick, is it?

I love Christmas shopping. In fact, I just saw my first TV commercial from a retailer urging people to start their shopping now. So, if you don't like Christmas, it's all downhill from here, folks! Halloween isn't even over yet and the yuletide decorations are already pushing aside the costumes that youngsters will be wearing next week.

It seems the older we get, the faster time goes by, eh? By the time I'm 90, I'll be seeing the hours tick by with every blink of my eyes. Then again, when I'm 90, maybe I'll just be falling asleep and waking up 24 times per day, so that will explain the hours going by so fast.

When I was a kid, my parents would go Christmas shopping in mid-December. They normally didn't go shopping together -- except for groceries -- but that was the one time of the year when they made it a point to go together.

Christmas is always an exciting time to be a child. My parents would arrive home with a carload full of goodies and order us to our rooms as they brought everything in, since we weren't allowed to see what they bought. They would then close their bedroom door and put everything away in their closet or under the bed. I always found the anticipation of trying to figure out what I was getting for Christmas to be unbearable.

Of course, whenever my brother, sister and I would show just a bit too much enthusiasm (translation: greed), they felt the need to bring out the parental guilt on how lucky we were to be getting Christmas presents at all.

Then, inevitably -- like the sound of reindeer hooves on the roof every Christmas Eve -- we would then get the annual big speech on how they would have to walk in snow up to their neck in the middle of July just to go to the outhouse. Then there were the stories of how on Christmas morning they would only get one stale piece of bread to share among their 29 brothers and sisters and then gather around the tree and sing like the Whos did in How the Grinch Stole Christmas.

Then, they would have to go to church for a six-hour mass sung in Latin where the closest thing they would get to a Christmas dinner was the communion wafer. And if they were thirsty? Well, they would just have to drink each other's tears.

Or we'd listen to how they'd have to go to bed at 6 p.m. and then be up half an hour later to get ready for their 20-mile walk to school, completely naked in the middle of January after having had to eat their little brother for breakfast because they were so poor. Did I mention the pack of wolves that was chasing them at the same time? What about being beaten by the teacher with a cane for not knowing how to recite the entire dictionary backwards?

Of course, their stories always make my own tales of childhood woe pale in comparison. It's kind of difficult to get much pity from younger folk when you tell them about the dark days before e-mail. "We had to put these things called stamps on letters and then put them in a red box," I'd say, as their eyes would open slowly in terror. "Then, some guy came to pick them up. They'd then be sorted and delivered to someone's house. Sometimes, it would take a week for a letter to go down the street."

Yeah, I know. Doesn't exactly have the same pity factor as having to bite the tip of your finger off so you could write out your homework in blood, the family being too poor to afford a pencil.

I still can't get my head around the apparent thrill my parents' generation got when they got an orange in their stocking on Christmas morning. Tropical fruit such as oranges was rare back then. Quite a change, these days. If you gave your kid an orange in his Christmas stocking instead of the latest technological contraption, you'd better start sleeping with one eye open and have your fingers ready to dial 911, lest you wake up and find Junior hovering over your bed ready to smother you with your own pillow.

But enough about Christmas. There's plenty of time for that. Next week marks my most disliked holiday of the year: Halloween. In other words, legalized begging for sugar-laden treats door-to-door. Oh what fun!

I hesitate to even ask my parents about Halloween. I suppose that the slow, chubby children who couldn't run fast enough were actually sacrificed in the middle of the street, huh? And they were so poor that they gladly ate the razor blades embedded in the apples they received, huh? Oh. . . and we can't forget that their entire Halloween loot bag had to be shared not only with their 32 brothers and sisters (Mom had three more kids since Christmas, apparently), but with the eight grandparents living with them, too.

Joking aside, I'm happy not to have any horror stories about my childhood Christmases or Halloweens.

Well, except for the year I was kidnapped by that UFO...

1 comment:

joe24ottawa said...

ROFL LOL! You certainly have a way with words and one wild imagination! LOL