- ABOUT US
By Megan Rossman
December 15, 2011
Oh, the holidays. Peace on Earth. Goodwill toward men. Family drama. Snow. Hot buttered rum. Credit card debt. Every year, it’s a mixed bag of emotions.
Whatever the state of my emotions during the holidays, one that I feel more and more as I get older is empathy. For my parents.
As a child, you don’t appreciate the strain that Christmas causes on adults’ brains. Often, the biggest demand made of a child is to scream on Santa’s lap while someone takes a photo. And even then, she’ll probably get a candy cane out of the deal. It’s up to adults to finance the season and make all the plans. Merriment doesn’t just make itself.
Teenagers often don’t add to the jubilation. I remember one year, unsatisfied with the quality of my family’s holiday décor, I asked my cash-strapped mom why we always had to have a “K-Mart Christmas.” It’s a testament to her patience that she did not whack her ungrateful daughter over the head with one of those cheap nutcrackers on the mantel.
My mother’s patience does have its limits. Years earlier, some unruly Rossman child toppled the Christmas tree for the second or perhaps third time in a month, scattering ornaments and knocking over lamps yet again. My siblings and I laughed heartily at the festive destruction, but my mom, knowing the recovery process would be her burden to bear, loudly and profanely condemned Christmas before marching off to her bedroom. (For the record, we did help re-erect the tree.)
Although there were the mini-catastrophes and family spats that come along with Christmas, we did have our fair share of jovial times. It was tradition that on Christmas Eve, we would go to McDonald’s, where in the company of hobos and nonbelievers, we would share a simple meal of cheeseburgers, fries, and apple pies before catching a movie at the local cineplex. It sounds unglamorous, but it was fun. In the morning, my siblings, my dad, and I would wait somewhat patiently in the living room until my mom finally arose at 7 a.m. to begin the present opening. While records from a Reader’s Digest Christmas music collection played, we’d shred paper with the glee of nest-builders, hollering with delight as our labors revealed plastic in all its forms and colors, from Treasure Trolls and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles to Barbie Ferraris and Playmobile teepees. In the afternoon, extended family would join us for a proper feast, and then we’d sit around in a pleasant holiday-induced stupor until sleep overtook us.
These days, I’m far from a child, but this time of year does inspire in me nostalgia and, sometimes, childlike enthusiasm in me. Like an elf, I’ve been painting wooden toys in my living room and wondering what expletive-laden family memories this season will bring.