I haven’t written to you in many years and that’s probably a good thing. I do miss you though. I miss those earnest letters in which I put my best foot forward and truly believed I deserved the thing I was gasping for. I miss really believing in something, in willing myself to sleep Christmas Eve so you could come and deliver your magic; eating the biscuits and milk carefully laid out (always making sure to leave a bite lest we think you a glutton). I miss Rudolph’s toothy bite marks on the half-eaten carrot. I miss being so fucking precious.
Things kind of went to Hell after you left. Granted, presents took on a more realistic duty. Who could forget the carton of Camel cigarettes and assortment of Bic lighters peeking rebelliously out of my stocking.
Never had a Christmas sock brought such joy! But after your departure came the responsibility to gift with as much magic and intuition as you. Some of my choices landed well, some brought genuine tears (the hand-made gifts of sentimentality) and some gifts concretized my family standing as “freak.”
It was the year I gave my family a toilet seat for Christmas. I was old enough that the gift couldn’t be considered an act of childish naiveté. I think I was well into my predilection for vodka and oranges. Under the advice of another, somewhat remote family member I was lead to believe that a nice wooden toilet seat with brass fixtures would be appealing to new home owners.
It had a fashionable cardboard carrying case with a viewing window so one could stop to admire the toilet seat nestled in its temporary housing and a sturdy plastic handle with which to carry it about. This came in handy when I had to cross the US/Canadian border. I had taken the Greyhound into British Columbia from Washington and was required to walk through customs for inspection. I gingerly laid the toilet seat on the counter along with my bag.
“Anything to declare?”
“Just a few Christmas gifts for my family.”
“A toilet seat.”
Snow fell quietly on the Peace Arch border crossing. Seagulls surfed snow drifts. Babies were born. Father Christmas packed his sleigh and somewhere a grizzly bear yawned. Finally, the Customs Agent said,
“Miss, why are you transporting a toilet seat into Canada?”
“It’s a gift for my Mum and Dad. They just bought a new house and I thought…”
The grizzly bear settled in for his winter’s kip, the seagulls lifted off in search of a salty snack and finally the agent waved me on.
“Merry Christmas, Miss.”
I felt that all of Canada was smirking at me in that moment.
I never did see that toilet seat in use. I did ask about it once which was a mistake, we’re British.
“Mum, what happened to that toilet seat what I gave you at Christmas?”
And in the silence that ensued tea was made and drunk, a sausage roll was consumed and a Christmas sweater was knit that could easily house all of Torrance. I still have that sweater but I’d bet all of Father Christmases sleigh bells they don’t have that seat.
I miss you Father Christmas, you Son of a Bitch. You and your big black boots I could never hope to fill.
All my Love,