Monday, December 18, 2006

COLUMN: Fa La La Ho Ho Ho

WHAT CHRISTMAS MEANS TO ME:
A Holiday Essay By Shane


• LIES, DECEPTION & TRICKERY. OK, sure, it might not sound like the holliest or jolliest of Christmas tidings, but in MY family, it's an essential part of the holidays.

"So what did you get me for Christmas?" my mom usually begins asking in early December.

"Bwaa ha ha," I reply. "I got you a sumthin'."

"What kind of sumthin'?"

"A sumthin' you'll like."

"So there's just ONE sumthin'?"

"Maybe. Maybe not. Might be a bunch of sumthin's."

"Oh, and I wanted to ask you one other thing," she'll say, deftly changing the subject.

"What's that?"

"What did you get me for Christmas?"

Yes, nothing really brings home the holiday spirit quite like a month of mind games over what we buy one another. Some holidays, I'm not altogether happy with what I find for the parents.

This time, though, I've found the perfect gift for my mom. I'd love to tell you about it, but she has a mail-order subscription to the paper (the woman would pin up every column I write if only she had a refrigerator door big enough,) so I can't divulge. Sorry.

But I will say that it's a sumthin.' That may or may not involve several other sumthin's. And Mom, you'll like it. Bwaa ha ha.

It's not as though I'm the only evil one in the family. One year, every time I'd ask what I was getting for Christmas, my folks would reply, "A box of rocks if you're not careful."

Well, Christmas morning rolls around, and I wake up to find one huge present under the tree. I decimate the wrapping to find ... a box of rocks. Very heavy rocks.

Of course, at the bottom of the box was a gift certificate to feed my ever-growing music habit, but still, I learned from an early age never to underestimate the power of The Parents.

• MENTAL ANGUISH. This involves shopping for my dad, who is, without doubt, the hardest person to buy for in the entire world. Shopping for my dad usually involves walking into stores like Lowe's and Menard's, which for someone like me is like visiting a foreign country.

When I ask my dad what he'd like for Christmas, the response is usually, "Product #XJ792A1" from some bizarre woodworking/handicraft/things-I-know-nothing-about catalog o' the moment. I suppose it's fun to get what you WANT for Christmas, but shouldn't there be some element of surprise?

Not necessarily, as my parents proved to me one year in college. They showed up unexpectedly at my dorm room door and took me on a massive Christmas shopping spree.

We drove from store to store and I was literally like the gulls from "Finding Nemo": "Mine! Mine! Mine!" It was the best time ever ... until the END of the trip, when they dropped me off at the dorm.

I went to open the trunk full o' booty to find my folks going, "Nope. Christmas is two weeks away -- we've got wrapping to do!" And then they drove off, leaving me empty-handed and anxious. Patience is a virtue, my fanny. It's torture.

• FREAKISHLY AWFUL DISCO MUSIC. As a card-carrying music nerd extraordinaire, I'm required to possess an eclectic collection of Christmas music. My all-time favorite dates back to high school.

My friend Bruce and I were thumbing through the bargain bin at Musicland when we found it. An album cover featuring a scantily-clad babe in a Santa hat holding an electric guitar, and no credited performer. The title? "Christmas Party Dancing."

It was an immediate must-own. On the disc was a treasure trove of nightmarishly awful disco versions of your holiday faves. "I saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus" starts with a "Ho ho ho" before a chorus of disco babes yell, "HO MAMA!"

In short, it's the tackiest thing ever. And for the last decade, I've tortured all of my friends with it annually. My goal is to put it on EVERYONE's list of "What Christmas Means To Me." If you ever see it, buy it at all costs (especially when that cost is probably gonna be less than $5!) Speaking of music:

• THE TRANS-SIBERIAN ORCHESTRA. Only because they're the SECOND tackiest thing on Earth. What becomes of these poor people once the holidays are done? In December, they can sell out the Mark.

But come Jan. 1, they disappear back into the night, taking their long hair and freaky holiday diddies on the lonely road back to Trans-Siberia, where I imagine they share a house with Mannheim Steamroller and play cards until Thanksgiving when they can be relevant once again.

• WARM FUZZIES. No matter what, Christmas is still the best time of the year. Twinkling lights, warm cookies and smiles on faces.

It's all so corny I have no recourse but to fall into its trap and say things I'd NEVER say in normal circumstances: I wish ALL of you a happy holiday. Give to charity. Watch the smiles on kids' faces. Hug your families. Then figure out what Christmas means to YOU.

1 comment:

Wendy said...

At least your dad tells you what he would like for Christmas. Mine doesn't even give me a hint; so each year, I wander the stores hoping to find 'sumthin' that he will at least like. This year will be no different. What do you give a man who has or gets everything he wants or needs? Sigh.

Merry Christmas!