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February 26, 2024

The Christmas Grouch

By Dan Mulhollen

People have told me a painting of this house would make a very good Christmas card. I suppose they are right; with its bay windows, large wrap-around porch, and the two arborvitae trees, one on each side of the steps, it is a sight out of a Currier and Ives lithograph.

The interior also matches tradition. Of course, there is a fireplace and a great room large enough for even a fifteen foot tree. There is also a kitchen with adjoining pantry, large dining room, and snug, comfy bedrooms.

But would one actually want to live in a Christmas card? Would one chose to live in a house so large that utility bills nearly two thirds of the paycheck? And would anyone want to live anyplace where being cheerful was expected?

I certainly did not. I would much rather live in a downtown apartment where all the necessities in life are minutes away. I would prefer to live in a small place where I could sleep, shower, eat, and entertain all within the smallest amount of floor space. And I would chose to live someplace keeping with my sour disposition.

Yet every weekend before Thanksgiving, I'm there on the ladder, creating a rough exoskeleton of the interior beams with lights. Every December first, I'm baking traditional family cookies. And every December twenty-fourth, at eleven-thirty at night, I am walking towards the local church for midnight Mass.

It should be pointed out that my belief in the Bible evaporated at about the same time in my life as did my belief in Santa Clause and the Easter Bunny. When Molly Perkins broke my heart in the ninth grade, it was not due to any sort of fate or karma, it was out of my own stupidity in falling for such selfish bitch. When I lost my job this past March, it was simply the economy, and pure luck in my finding a new one in June.

I've given up on gifts and cards, even though I still get a few. Most of these are from co-workers who get caught up in this sort of thing.

Life is too transient for all this nonsense. Most of the adults from my childhood have since died. Oh, one might say there are children now, to replace them. I've never accepted that; being considered the adults of the family is still alien to me, even though I am well up in years. It depresses me to see those adults I once confided all my childhood hopes and fears in are now gone.

And should any child trust my advice? I am only sure of myself part of the time. It seems both unfair and unrealistic that I should be considered a source of wisdom.

But the stores need to make their profit. And I guess there's something to be said for one time of year when people feel a little more charitable.

So here I am, sipping eggnogg and listening to a CD of the same Perry Como Christmas album my parents played every Christmas when I was young. Here I am in this ridiculous example of Victorian architecture reading A Christmas Carol for the twenty or twenty-first time (I tend to alternate Dickens with Seuss; Dickens the even numbered years, and appropriately, Seuss the odd ones).

And here I am thinking about Molly Perkins, wondering if she ever married that jerk Sean Nolan. She might be a grandmother by now, being all those things teenagers swear they will never be, yet most do become.

I guess, having always been an old grouch, I am the exception.

Article © Dan Mulhollen. All rights reserved.
Published on 2009-12-21
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