Childhood Christmas

I've mentioned in the past being kind of bitter about family holidays. It's a more recent thing that I'll move past when I have a reason to be excited about them again, but I'm not down or anything like that right now, I'm kind of just reminiscing about what Christmas was like when I was a kid, and the things I learned about the 'behind the scenes' as I got older. 

I spent almost every childhood Christmas I can remember with my mom's family in New York. It was her parents, her sisters, our cousins then extended family sometimes, and family friends stopping by. But most often my grandparents, aunts and cousins. We'd leave out of Reston as soon as we could after the I got out of school on the last day before the holidays. Being younger than my brothers, we would have to wait for the end of elementary school or middle school depending. We'd stop by CVS to grab snacks and drinks before the drive. Trips to New York were always nice because we got to have snacks or candy we were't normally allowed to have. 

So, piled back into the car with presents around or on us, we'd say a prayer for safety as we'd get out on the sometimes snowy roads as our mom made the drive to New York. If it were still light enough, I'd read and try to listen to my own music instead of the Ten Sleepless Knights, Luther Vandross, or whatever MoTown tape my mom was playing. My brothers most often slept in the car, i'd sometimes sleep, but car sleep isn't that satisfying to me. 

As a kid the distance between Reston and Baltimore seemed to be forever. As an adult i can verify that it is friggin' forever to get to Baltimore. I knew we were in New Jersey because it smelled bad, and I often slept through Delaware. I loved being away on the GW, and but I can't remember which level I preferred to ride on, it was the opposite to the one my mom wanted to drive on into New York. We'd skirt the city and drive past the Bronx Zoo as we left whatever highway we were on to get to my grandparent's. It's now whatever o'clock, it's dark and we have to unload the car and not look into any of the numerous bags we were carrying because some of it was out own unwrapped Christmas gifts. 

We sit down to a dinner of White Castle or whatever food our grandmother had prepared. Shrimps and rice was a perennial favorite that I need to learn how to make... Mmm, shrimps and rice. It was always 'shrimps' and not 'shrimp'. it's how we spoke, but that's neither here nor there. Our mother would lay out on the floor or go upstairs and sleep, because she was an adult and did regular parent-adult things before having to drive 4+ hours through traffic and often weather with maybe coffee and a short nap break on the Jersey Turnpike. 

Let's say it's the 23rd when we got in. We'd watch cartoons or some weird movie with our grandfather after greeting whoever else was in the house and eventually we'd shuffle off to bed because sleeping in the car makes you tired. 

The next day there'd be a family breakfast, sausage and eggs, English muffins, or cereal, nothing too special, but easy enough to feed 8 people. It'd be more watching movies and stuff and looking at the tree. We'd judge the already wrapped gifts looking for ours and wondering who the other people were - most often work friends and like. My mom and my Aunt Cheryl would be cooped up in the master bedroom wrapping gifts. They'd call us up to take wrapped presents back downstairs throughout the day and help us wrap our gifts for each other. We'd also be used to wrap gifts for out grandparents and sometimes carried down gifts 'from Santa' in the middle of the evening on Christmas Eve. That's a thing we all did and laughed about it. 

We'd be forced to go to bed and my mom and aunt would stay up half the night wrapping gifts. Seriously, they'd be up until 4 wrapping gifts for about 20 different family members, godparents, aunts, uncles, family friends, neighbors. It went on. The thing about them wrapping gifts in a one day marathon like this, and i guess it started in the early evening not during the day - is that they'd forget who gifts were for, and they'd end up unwrapping gifts to see what it was and who it was for, before wrapping it again. They did this many, many times, which I now find hilarious.  They worked so hard though.

We kids would wake up around 7 and go downstairs and look at the presents. Then we'd turn on the TV because we knew certain death would happen if we tried to wake the old folks up to open gifts at 7am. And we'd wait. Our grandmother was one of the first adults to wake up after my brothers and I were up. Eventually my mom and aunt would stagger downstairs, beat and tired but pleasant and cheerful. We'd be waiting on our grandfather who seemed to never get downstairs until 11 to open gifts and we'd start opening toys, clothes, books, candy, trinkets, jewelry and whatever else was given to us. We'd clean up and start opening things while breakfast was made. It was often pancakes, or Mickey Mouse pancakes which were always more special. 

In the afternoon my other aunt would show up with her daughter and granddaughter and we'd do Christmas again with them, before dinner. Dinner was always like Thanksgiving dinner, or maybe Thanksgiving Lite. But homemade honey-baked ham is delicious, so is turkey and everything else so there were no complaints. 

For the rest of the trip we'd see other cousins and great aunts and people twice removed and whatever. Once we saw the Rockette's Christmas show, i don't remember it too well, I was young. I do remember it ending with them snowing in the theater. One of my first experiences with dry ice, so that's cool. 

I was talking with my aunt about how little sleep she gets and she brought up what Christmas used to be like. Having to buy so much stuff for so many kids and the wrapping marathon and mistakes. They're good memories, and i'm glad I was able to spend Christmas so many years like that. I'm enjoying the stripped down Christmas that I've spent these past few years with my brothers, but in a way, I also look forward to being involved in a big family Christmas where new and weird traditions start. I look forward to really being engaged in the holidays. Today feels much like any other day in my life, I woke up, read some comics, looked at tumblr and made breakfast. it'd be different if I were on a vacation from work, or if I worked in general. It'd also be different if it were cold and snowed. I guess 38 is cold, but it's still not the same, and I'm someone who hates snow. 

i dunno. Hug somebody, enjoy the people around you. Something something compassion and words. i don't know how I want to end this, you think of something heartfelt. I'm going to go back to reading comics.

Stop Being Bitter About Valentine's Day

I like my post from last year's Valentine's Day so I wanted to re-post it and have it on this site too, so that's next.

Why Hating Valentine's Day is Stupid

Every February singles across America are bitter because they don't have that "one special someone" to lavish them with love, or to lavish with love. They're bitter because they feel as if the world has taken up arms against their singleness so they hate love, they hate positivity and they decide to hate their friends who happen to be in a romantic relationship. I happen to find that whole mindset to be ignorant, spiteful and stupid.  
It's common enough knowledge around these here parts that I am single and I have never had a boyfriend. I've written a few times over the years about relationships, some things positive and some negative. I've also written about love a few times. Those last two overlap but whatever. My point is I'm single and I've been bitter about it, but Valentine's Day doesn't really make me bitter. I'm indifferent because I don't really need to lean that far one way or the other.
It's also stupid for people who are single to pine, cry, and rage about Valentine's Day when conversations like "Worst Valentine's Gifts Ever" get written, every fucking year. Or how about "Valentine's Dos and Don'ts" And to manipulate people there are lists such as "Gifts for Every Woman in Your Life". People who are single take for granted all of this shit, I read it and make a confused face and laugh at the stupidity. Why is it also looked at as the man's responsibility to make Valentine's Day "perfect"? We're I able to, I'd wine and dine my fella because I'd want to.
Going back to single-bitterness, people have taken to calling February 14 "Singles Awareness Day". I feel sorry for these people because they can't accept everything else they have in their lives. I don't have A Significant Other, I have many Significant Others, I generally call them 'friends' because that creeps all of us out a bit less. On a given week I interact with anywhere between 20-50 people who worry about me, who notice when they haven't seen me in a while, who like to see me. Since last February I've made around ten new friends to hang out with, I've added a shit ton of Facebook friends, but that's different, and I feel loved.
I feel loved because I don't sit around waiting for one person to tell me they care about me. I'm not waiting for one person to buy me flowers and candy, to take me out to dinner or to stay in watching some delightfully terrible movie because why should I put everything into one person? That's too much stress and responsibility, it's ridiculous.
People say Valentine's Day makes them aware of how tragically alone they are; that's every fucking day. Think passively about the last movie you watched, just about any genre, there's a male and female lead, they hate each other, then love each other, have a falling out then they get back together before the credits roll. Action movie: the action hero/ine rescues someone else and the victim they rescued falls madly in love with them half way through the movie, there are some sloppy make outs, maybe a fade to black sex scene and finally they walk hand in hand into the sunset after the victim's been saved one last time. Romanctic comedy (I can't remember the last movie that was just a romance without needing the poorly handled comedy) Super hot really successful woman meets super hot/moderately hot/seriously unattractive and unsuccessful man who teachers her how to live and love life again, they have a falling out over something she initially found endearing, they realize they can't live with one another so they get back together. Credits. The comedy, male lead living a mediocre life meets super hot chick and cracks jokes about the main plot and some how gets his life entwined with hers, but not before they break it off for like a movie-day then get back together, a few more jokes and credits.
And it just keeps going on, many movies have a lead and their romantic counterpart and it's generally the same up and fucking down and people get pissed off because one day celebrates relationships. I'm more irritated that I have to deal with some hamfisted, unrealistic romantic relationship in my action movie instead of seeing more explosions, more trains crashing into each other and more monsters getting their asses handed to them. No, in the middle of the fight the leads realize this may be their last or their only chance to tell each other they love them, so movie time slows to like...30 seconds movie time equals 2 minutes real time, so their liplock is on DBZ levels and how fucking long has this been going on.
I'm not lying when I say I wouldn't want to wake up in the morning with someone else in my bed or that I don't want someone else to think about me all the time, but I'm not going to hate other people or a holiday just because I don't have any one else. I have many people. Hell, on Monday I walked around campus giving holographic dinosaurs, temporary tattoos and candy to people. I gave them to people who said they hated Valentine's Day, and they told me I made their day better.
Valentine's Day isn't about one person caring about you, it's about anyone caring, it's about knowing that people want you to be happy. I did what I did because I like giving people things, and I wanted candy but I didn't want to eat the entire bag on my own. You know what's amusing? Seeing a 23 year old geek out over a holographic dinosaur that shows it's skeleton. Seeing the 27 year old who has real tattoos try to put a tie-die patterned peace sign on his forehead, or the 19 year old rush to put a creepily disembodied puppy on her wrist. And that people can't resist the delicious taste of a Reese's mini-cup or a Jolly Rancher lollipop. For a moment people forgot that they didn't have a date for dinner and took joy in the kindness of a relative stranger.
I don't know, people put too much stock into one person caring about them that they forget about anybody else around them who notices when they're not there. If you disappeared for even 24 hours and nobody knew where you went, I'm sure at least one person would wonder and be worried. I like to think about all of my relationships more then just thinking about my non-existent romantic relationships
I dunno, I've just never understood the rage and hatred, especially when people in relationships still hate Valentine's Day because they have to make an effort to prove to someone they love them. The hassle it all is because society puts so much into pushing one day of love and compassion that if the 14th sucks then the relationship is destined to fail. You never win it seems, so I'd rather be happy with many, seeing many and enjoying friendships instead of depressed with one and having no one else to spend my time with.

That's what I wrote last year and I still feel the same. Platonic relationships are incredibly important and under valued. And my movie thing, I don't think that hamfisted love plots make a narrative better, I really would rather see more explosions than a poorly constructed relationship. When I want to yell at the lead to tap that, I'll watch a rom-com and then be mad at them pussyfooting around their mutual desire to rub genitals.

So there is something new to this, this year, instead of passing out bitchin' temporary tattoos I made Love Bites, you can watch me make them:

I also recorded the video version of this very topic where i used a ridiculous analogy because that's how I think.

So, those are my thoughts. I have been twitterpated, I have been bitter about my lack of a significant other, but it's not the end of the world. Instead of being a bitch, do something nice for someone else, everyone I gave a love bite was so damn excited and happy, both the single and the spoken for. People like getting things and they like knowing that someone care, even as a friend. Go make someone smile instead of crying over not having someone to swap DNA and germs with, think about someone else and make their day better.