"Christmas, ugh. People act on cue, doing it because it's there. They are afraid not to. I've had my greatest Xmases on the bum. Just locked the door of my room and didn't see anybody. It was glorious." - Buk.
"I pause, stand up straight, run a hand over my face, breathe in and then lean back down. "Listen to me..." I breathe in again. "They've got midgets in there." I point with a thumb back at the brownstone. "Midgets who are about to sing 'O Tannenbaum'...." I look at him imploringly, begging for sympathy, at the same time looking appropriately frightened. 'Do you know how scary that is? Elves" - I gulp - "harmonising?" I pause, then quickly ask, "Think about it.""
"-"Oh, stop scowling. You're such a Grinch."
- "And what does Mr. Grinch want for Christmas?" Evelyn asks in a baby's voice. "Has Mr. Grinchie been a good boy this year?"
- I sigh. "The Grinch wants a Burberry raincoat, a Ralph Lauren cashmere sweater, a new Rolex, a car stereo - "
- Evelyn stops sucking on the candy cane to interrupt. "But you don't have a car, honey."
- "I want one anyway." I sigh again. "The Grinch wants a car stereo anyway.""
I've been called a Grinch. By my brother. Although unconstructive, this is a not entirely unwarranted accusation. Last time I had Christmas at home with my whole family (all four of us, a few years ago) I made the announcement midway through the day* that I would not be engaging in such activity again, ever. I love them, but all of us together creates a situation where the hot tong nerves reach my throat and reduce me to a trembling twitchy-eyed wreck; a flogged spirit. Other people can do these things easily, it seems, without feeling like a frog on a dissection table. My machinery is not set that way but in the hell and hell and hell on and on I wish everyone many putrid limping returns and a sweetly-screaming Christmas all the same. Amen, and happy birthday baby Jesus.
*I can't be sure it was the same year - with good reason - but I think later on that same afternoon I leaned off the side of my bed partway through a siesta and threw up all over the floor of my teenage bedroom. My brother mixes a savagely strong drink, okay?