Gus once said this about Christmas.
“It’s a fire women start, and then they run around screaming because everything is on fire.”
If women vanished from the earth Christmas would, for the most part, go with them. If the holiday survived I imagine it reverting to some sort of raucous medieval feast, with spit roasted game strewn on a rough hewn table where the men eat bare-fisted, and endless flowing grog. And probably more sodomy than is currently associated with the season.
There certainly wouldn’t be a thriving debate over whether “proper” Christmas tree lights should be one color, or multiple, tiny or old-fashioned big, or blinking or on random or solid or playing “we wish you a merry christmas” in a tinny squeak over and over. And that is one, only one piece of Christmas that women are in charge of.
There is a scene in one of the early Family Guy episodes, where the mom Lois finally has all the Christmas disappointment she can take. All her plans have gone wrong because of her incompetent family. And she snaps.
“You all think Christmas just HAPPENS??? You think all this goodwill just falls from the friggin’ sky! Well it doesn’t! It falls outta my holly jolly BUTT!”
Ain’t that the truth. And my Christmas butt-cheer is pooped out. Presents for everyone and their pet, carefully selected and wrapped in natural paper and raffia. Tree wrestled single-handedly home ( no time for tying it on the roof, I hung it out of my open trunk and took back roads home) and stuffed into it’s stand with no help, save my 2 year old gibbering excitedly like a Minion while he watched. School programs and girl scout programs and gift exchanges and cookie exchanges and handmade ornaments. I dread, with exhausted depletion, that I will be ambushed by a nice gift from someone I wasn’t expecting to exchange with. Christmas. Christmas Christmas Christmas.
And then Gus, my Grinch. He despises my insistence on a real tree every year, waits till the last second to wrap his gifts, and won’t let me listen to Christmas music in the car because it makes him think of mummified corpses sitting long forgotten in their living rooms while that lonely music plays on and on over the radio.
He came home yesterday and instead of immediately taking off his boots and putting on his lazy-shorts, he said he wanted to go into town. He never wants to go into town. It turns out a co-worker was telling him about a foster family in need of Christmas aid.
“They have stuff on their list like, toothpaste and underwear! For little kids! I can’t stop thinking about it.”
So he went to Wal-Mart by himself, which he hates, and shopped for those kid’s Christmas. He got Spongebob toothbrushes and Lego sets and superhero socks. I won’t disclose the amount because it embarrassed him, but I will say it was double that of a grocery trip and infinitely more than he’s ever spent on himself. This is a man who asks me if I’m ok with him spending $15 on a Swiss Army Knife for his collection.
Now he’d prefer we never speak of it again; the whole thing makes him blush. It makes me blush too, because I had to play the part of the dummy who learns a life lesson in this cliche. My dear weird darling Gus thought of how sad an empty Christmas can be, and set out to prevent bad instead of spending time and money over-embellishing what was already good.
Merry Christmas Gus. I love you.