I opened the door to the store only to have my eyes flooded with fluorescent lighting. It was roughly nineteen hours. Seven pm, and I had been sent out by my mother to rent her a movie at the local convenience store. It was a cold Christmas Eve; it was a Christmas Eve that didn't feel like a Christmas Eve to me at all.
Today was different than other Christmas Eve for two reasons: The first reason being that my sister was to be picked up by my mother today so she can spend Christmas with us. I hadn't seen my sister for a while, and we've never been the type of siblings to get along. I wasn't entirely excited for her arrival. The second reason was when I woke up I had decided that today would be a day without Christmas specials. I planned on watching TV, loafing around, just being a completely lazy slob, but I was going to do so without watching a single Christmas themed episode of what ever show I was watching.
There were points where this became impossible. I ended up catching the last half of some Christmas special only to critique it and apply it to concepts of other stories thinking: “Wow, Christmas stories are never original.” This was a disappointing realization because I used to love watching them as a child. I was very cynical to the entire idea of a Christmas special now because I have grown quite pretentious and the idea of original story was all that was on my mind.
My day continued until this moment where my mom asked me to run to the store. The disappointment of holidays was a thought of the past as I crossed the high way and made my way to the door of the store. Once my eyes recovered from the light I looked to see a peer I once went to high school with. We began arbitrary conversation about life and the holidays.
This classmate asked me how I felt about a particular drug, and if I wanted to buy any. The drug in question was MDMA and I proclaimed two reasons to decline: I had no money to buy drugs with; I will no take a drug like that alone, especially when I'm at my mom's house for the holidays and plan on just listening to music all night and surf the internet. After the decline some more arbitrary conversation arose until he offered me a few buds of cannabis. Being an enthusiast I did not decline.
Cannabis in hand I ventured back into my mom's house, sluggishly walked up stairs to the guest bedroom where all my belongings laid on the floor, scattered. I found a beautiful porcelain plate with profound stencilling of wolves on it. Typical show piece in my mother's home. Being from Northern Ontario, one gains a lot of respect for Native American culture. My mom was a fan-boy to say the least. Once the plate was acquired, the hunt for the scissors began. It was a quick, agile hunt, as though I knew where my target slept and I just had to seize the moment. The scissors were in the bathroom.
I chopped the bus of cannabis up, rolled a marijuana-cigarette and waited for a prime opportunity to smoke it. In that mean time I was able to have dinner, a snack and a few casual drinks as my mother and I watched non-Christmas themed television. It had really felt as though there was no cheer or spirit or constant reminder that today was Christmas Eve.
Once my mom decided to go to bed and my sister returned from a friend's Christmas party I decided to step outside and indulge.
“You want to smoke a joint and fall asleep?” I asked a half-drunk sister spread out on my mom's living room sofa.
“Yes!” she said with shock and awe as she jumped into a sitting position on the sofa. I motioned towards the front door and she stopped, asking “Wait, are you going outside?”
“Yes?” I was confused, did she expect me to smoke this right in my mother's living room? I wasn't going to be disrespectful like that.
“Then never mind. I don't want to go outside.”
So with that I ventured into the foyer where I realized my coat was upstairs. My cardigan and flannel shirt were not enough to keep me warm during this endeavour so I searched my surroundings. The first coat I spotted, and the one I ended up with, was my mom's alternative winter jacket. Not the one she wore every day, but the one she threw on if she was shovelling the walkway or other chores that had to be done outdoors in the winter.
I ventured to my mom's deck where I had a clear view of the highway that ran through this small town like a scar. I sparked the marijuana-cigarette and watched a provincial police vehicle drive by. My response was fear, almost instinctual then I remembered that it was, in fact, Christmas Eve. Even if the officer had seen, smelt, had any suspicion I was doing anything illegal he wouldn't be bothered to investigate. I checked the time on my phone, it was twenty three hours, forty minutes. Eleven forty.
The smoking took much longer than I had expected and I finished around twenty three hours, fifty-eight minutes. Eleven fifty-eight. I texted my girlfriend in hopes that her clocks rang midnight with a “Merry Christmas!” text. I sent a few more gestures like this to close friends.
Entering the house is always an experience. It's as though the warmth of the home intensifies the feelings you get after smoking cannabis. I was in a blissful state by the time I made it back into the living room where I found myself creeping through the house as though I was one of the mice that was still stirring about. There's no reason a mouse wouldn't be stirring, they don't know Christmas. I didn't want to wake my sister who had fallen asleep watching some non-Christmas themed movie.
Her still body reminded me of when we were kids. The age difference never seemed to matter, she always fell asleep first. It was at that brief moment before I walked up the stairs and saw my sister lie still that I felt happy. I was sure it was December 25th already and I thought to myself “This is Christmas.”
I tried to think of a time before this where the true happiness was out and I had myself deep into my memory. I was a few years before my ripe age now and I was disappointed with myself. How could I have gone this long, being this miserable? It was a thought I soon forgave myself and continued with my positive thought patterns.
The true holiday spirit, I began to think to myself, was one manufactured by human beings. We loved the Christmas times because they were suppose to be the best times. No matter how cynical or disappointed we were before the actual day we still had a reason to wake up and be happy with our families, friends, pets, colleagues, peers and just everybody. It is the most organic emotion that humans have ever devised. We can look back at all the nostalgic times and remember the joy we felt, our parents felt, every one felt and feel good for the sake of feeling good.
I looked back at where the story started. The kid from my high school was the real spirit of Christmas, giving for the sake of giving. Even if his intent was just to push drugs, he showed me that this is the time of year that you just enjoy everything for the sake of enjoying it. I realized all along I didn't want to watch any more Christmas themed specials for the sole reason that I wanted to live one. I wanted to experience why this time of year was always so special to other people.
I continued my night with the internet and my headphones on just enjoying the simple idea that today, one day of year, we can feel good just for the sake of feeling good. We can feel good because we're told we're suppose to feel good and all of a sudden people begin to feel good. Christmas cheer has always been so much more simple than the television portrayed it, than our parents explained it, or how we remembered it. This is the idea, the concept, that I will keep to heart forever when this time of year comes around.
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