Winning Christmas

Ruby Clyde rues losing the game of Christmas gift-giving.

Welcome to Term Two- I hope your Christmas was excellent and your New Year not too underwhelming. And if you don’t celebrate either of those things, I hope you had a wonderful That.

I spent most of the Christmas break doing shots of Night Nurse with my parents. By that, I mean we were all really ill. We really did take our Night Nurse from shot glasses to ‘make it fun’. You cannot make Night Nurse fun. It tastes like a tube of Colgate that has been up all night crying. So that wasn’t great. And our local Church’s nativity play? Disappointing. They changed directors this year; I think that was most of the problem (the rest of it being children who cannot / will not project, although people say, ‘telling them so is unreasonable’ and, ‘don’t come back next year’).

Also… I lost Christmas.

Someone always loses Christmas. You know who it is, although you probably don’t point it out, because that’s ‘unreasonable’ and ‘don’t come back next year’. When two people exchange gifts, one of them almost invariably loses. That feels great when it’s not you:

‘Thank you, dear, for the dustpan. Can you guess what I got you? It’s a piano. A piano I made for you. From a tree. A tree I grew for you.’ And then you can savour their guilty happiness in the knowledge that you Christmassed all over them; you won.

Did you get a handmade piano for Christmas?

But it’s awful when you lose. And I lost. I got my mother a leather bound, handmade notebook. It is beautiful, when it is not being compared with the leather bound, handmade notebook she got my father. She commissioned an artist to make this notebook. The inside covers are lined with the sheet music of his favourite song. When he opened it, he cried. So did I, although that was mostly rage. I’m still considering the possibility that she did it deliberately to out-Christmas me.

So yes, a firm loss on that front. But I figured I had an easy match against my father. Every year on the 22nd he panics and asks what he should get me. I dislike this; Christmas is about proving you can win at gift giving through your own guile. But whatever, it makes for an easy win. Yet he didn’t ask me this year. When I pointed it out, he said, ‘I know. I’ve been keeping notes all year on what you might like.’

That adorable BASTARD. I’m certain that my parents teamed up to take me down, because I own Christmas. I have multiple Christmas jumpers. Every year, I compile a new Christmas playlist that boldly mixes classics with the cutting edge of holiday music.

I got my father a radio. It is now his ‘bathroom radio’. He has one in the kitchen. One in the living room. One in his bedroom. I did not know he had such an unnatural number of radios, (I think they fill the void I left behind when I moved out) but now there is one in almost every room of the house. They are usually tuned, maddeningly, to the same station. They all play Radio 4 in chorus, with a slight lag between them. In the true spirit of Christmas, I think I am going to destroy the other radios so that he fully appreciates my gift. The best gift idea is always to destroy something someone loves and then replace it. That way they get two gifts: the replacement, and catharsis.

Ok, so I lost Christmas. On the bright side, my birthday is before both of theirs this year (and, technically, every year…) so I get a good look at what I’m up against and can beat them at Birthday.

If anyone tries to tell you that these occasions are not competitions, do not listen to them; they have misunderstood the purpose of gift giving.