Reflections on the Holidays, Christmas, Car Shops, Transgender Crap, etc.

Must I really say it? Okay, I will. It’s that time of year again, someone told me we have to be jolly, and you know, sugar plums. Whatever. I used to get really excited about Christmas, but the euphoria wore off by the time I was thirteen or so, and now the best I can do is feel mildly nostalgic and somewhat sad that happy things get less happy as time goes on. I accept that that’s just the way things are – when you’re little, everything is a big, honking, exciting deal, and then when you’ve gone through the same thing ten-odd times it starts to lose its shine, and then eventually it just feels more like Whatever. Great, more sugar plums.

I’m happy that my little cousins are happy – and I’m happy that after the holidays the outdoor rinks are going to be frozen. I’m also happy that I get to see all my family, and spend some time with the people I don’t see as much, and get to eat really good Christmas food at both my grandparents’ houses. Presents I care about less, but, you know – I still like presents. I feel vaguely obliged to start getting other people presents, but I don’t have any money (well, a few coins sitting around, but that’s for getting tea at Tim Hortons with two milk, two sugar, on my walk home), and I don’t really know what people like, either. My usual strategy to satisfy people on their birthdays or whatever is to make them a card, which seems acceptable, because since they’re hand-made people will now I care, without me having to get them a shiny new toaster or whatever adults like. My little cousins are easier to get stuff for – I gave some old toys to my cousin a while ago, and maybe they’ll like my old picture books this year. I wish Christmas wasn’t quite so centered around presents; and it isn’t, always, but presents are still sort of a given. Christmas isn’t proper Christmas unless you have a mound of wrapped-up presents under the tree.

At my mom’s house, it’s the only the two of us and the cat, so we don’t have to go all-out with the decorations and stuff. We have a poor, sad little fake tree with droopy branches that we set up in the corner by the patio door, which the cat really likes to hide behind (and when he was little he would climb in it and sleep there), and we’ve got a string of red lights to put up at the kitchen window, and some other odds and ends. Otherwise it’s pretty minimalist – we have our stockings, (even a tiny one for PK) and my mom will fill them with silly things like banana holders or fancy new pens, and I might pick up a little cat toy or two to stuff in PK’s stocking, and that’s all we do. At my English grandma’s, it’s a much bigger production – we have a real tree, with a veritable Mount Everest of presents under it for the whole family, and a row of stockings packed to the brim with stuff (as well as “overflow bags”, a thing I’m pretty sure wasn’t a thing until my grandma invented it), and a nativity set over the painted wooden fireplace that my grandpa made way before I was born. We’re not even remotely religious, but we still have the old nativity; traditionally I set it up, with all the ceramic figures placed very carefully around the tiny baby Jesus sitting in his pile of hay, but this year my grandpa did it, and he put one of the camels in the middle, with everyone standing around looking at it. It struck me as one of the funniest things he’s ever done – he says the caption for it is “What are you all looking at?” That just about proves how religious we are, substituting Jesus for a camel.

At my French grandmother’s, it’s also a big production – she’s got this glitteringly perfect-looking fake Christmas tree, set up like something in a high-class office building, with a whole bunch of other decorations, a nativity set, a little Christmas village on the mantle, and many, many lights. When the lights are off, it’s actually pretty amazing. Her house is huge, and they have lots of money, so we always get stuffed full of presents on Christmas eve (which is when the French Canadians celebrate Christmas and open presents). She makes a big turkey dinner with all the fixings, and she used to invite over the whole family (and that’s A LOT OF PEOPLE), but I don’t know if she does that anymore. In any case, I’m glad she doesn’t. I went to a wedding a few months ago and I have to say, it’s somewhat stressful, being boxed in by a hundred screaming French people. I think they scream just to attempt to be heard, because it’s hard to be heard when everyone else is screaming, too. Unfortunately for more English-oriented family members like me, in that situation very little can be understood – one-on-one, I can hold my own in a French conversation, but drop me into that mess and I’m useless.

I think I almost prefer the less-busy kind of celebration; like at my mom’s, where we’ll watch a Christmas movie and giggle over the bad presents, and the cat will try to eat all the ribbons. I don’t mind when the whole family’s over, but it gets overwhelming after a while, especially at my English grandparents’ with my great aunt who can’t stop talking because of her anxiety, which makes me, in turn, really, really stressed out. Plus my cousins are as loud as a hockey game crowd, even though there’s only three of them. I never like being showered with presents – since my mom and dad are poor, I don’t have to go through the awkwardness of accepting expensive gifts from them, but at both my grandparents’ I do. As if that’s a bad thing; it isn’t really, but the thing is I don’t really need all that, and I’m happy enough to get a banana holder and some fancy pens, when it comes down to it. And my cat doesn’t even know it’s Christmas – we throw him some crinkly toys and a thing of catnip just for the sake of tradition, and that’s it, he’s happy. I think his version of the perfect Christmas would probably be a bowl of oatmeal left unattended or something.

I don’t know what my friends are doing for Christmas; most of them are well-off, so they usually go away for vacations, while I stick around town standing by the not-yet-frozen rinks and staring longingly over the boards. I’ve been envious lately of my well-off friends who get the new game systems and everything – I’ve wanted the new 3DS since it came out, because of the new Pokemon games, and not to mention the new Zelda one, A Link Between Worlds – but neither my mom or my dad can afford it, and it’s even a bit steep for my English grandparents, I think. I’m sure my French grandmother could afford it pretty easily but there’s no way I can go right out and ask her. It’s somewhat humbling, when all your friends have the new things all the time, and you never do. Josh already told me he’s probably getting the new Zelda game for Christmas – he’s already got the 3DS and both versions of the new Pokemon game. So does Devin, and Daniel – everybody except me and my friend Mat, and I think we can sympathize with each other because we’re both kind of poorish. He has a giant hole in his living room floor, anyways. It’s covered with a board and you can see down through a crack into the basement. He also apparently owns a cat named Hunter, which I’ve never met, and, except for a bowl of cat food and a chewed-up Nerf dart, don’t really have much reason to believe actually exists, since it’s always nowhere in sight when I visit him. At least my cat comes to the door to see who’s there before he runs away to hide.

So, I am looking forward to Christmas, mostly because of all the family being together, and the food. (I admit a good portion of it is the food.) My grandma makes Yorkshire pudding for Thanksgiving and Christmas, and I’m usually the rude person who eats five and everybody else has to have less. But I think it’s accepted in the household that the Yorkshires are there upon my request. She’s not making turkey this year, which is sad and also happy – sad because I love turkey, and happy because I don’t have to struggle to get around the fact that I’m going to be eating a giant dead bird that’s been baked in the oven for several hours and then cut apart.

I really like the English side of my family (of course the French side too), but they have a special place in my heart because I grew up at their house. There’s Nana, Eddie, Matt, and Auntie Heather, as well as the annoying, sweet-tempered Wheaten terrier, Roxy. I am constantly lobbying for the family to stop feeding Roxy whenever she begs – but they’re too nice to say no to a dog, especially when it’s a cute one. Roxy likes me, and she doesn’t bug me for food. When she does I just shove her head away and say No – and it actually works. When I come in the door she runs over to me, stubby tail wagging, and jumps up on me. I lean down to give her my hat, which she takes politely in her mouth, and then she runs away to sit with it on the couch and wait for me to come get it back. She really is pretty cute, if annoying with her constant search for food from people’s plates.

Today we had a sort of pre-Christmas celebration at their house, because part of the family isn’t coming this year, they’re headed to my aunt’s mom’s place, and my grandma wanted us to all be together once for the holidays. We got pizza from Pizza Pizza and decorated the Christmas tree, and I went out for a walk with my grandpa, my uncle, and my dad – we played with a glow in the dark Frisbee while Roxy ran around looking for things to eat that she isn’t supposed to eat. Now I’m here at my mom’s again, sitting in the ever-chilly darkness of my room – I even opened the vent the whole way, and it’s still chilly. Yet, during the night I always get too hot. There’s no solution to this, really.

Hey, tomorrow’s school. Wonderful. Actually, it might be getting marginally better lately – in History class last week we actually got play a video game that had to do with World War 2 – and among the group of girls I happened to be with, I was the only one who could fly the plane without crashing it instantly. ‘Wow, you’re good!’ someone exclaimed enviously, after I finished the level crash-free. Well, despite my girl-like exterior, I have been playing video games for years, and I contest daily with a group of teenage boys at lunch on the Wii. All that has given me some respectable video game skills, and my know-how with consoles in general is more impressive, I would say, than most “girls” my age. I fought for years to get good enough to beat my friends on Super Smash Bros., where before I’d just lose as badly as those girls in History class who kept crashing the plane. Now I do fairly well – I very rarely win, but I don’t lose as often. My favorite character (you can just skip this, if it’s going right over your head, that’s fine), is Sheik, who’s just Zelda dressed up as a boy. (Zelda is the princess in a video game series that you have to rescue, but in one of the games she dressed up as Sheik, who’s a mysterious character that can fight and do flips and stuff, who you initially think is a boy, until you find out later that he isn’t.) It’s super-ironic, obviously, and I wonder if the point is starting to rub off on anybody. “My favorite character is SHEIK, HE’s the best,” I said the other day.

I got one nod and two other boys that barely heard me. You tend not to listen very well when you’re playing video games, I understand that.

But Sheik, honestly, is pretty amazing. He’s fast and his final smash is the same as Zelda’s, which is a powerful light arrow that smashes into other characters and flings them off the stage, usually fatally. I don’t play as Sheik JUST because I like his attacks and stuff – I also play as him because I can sympathize with him, and I admire Zelda for secretly being so awesome as to masquerade as a boy while also being a beautiful princess. Like, yes – good move, Nintendo.

All right, the nerd rant is over. I don’t know if people properly understand the depths of my nerd-knowledge – I’ve played all the Pokemon games, (except the new ones), I was really into Yu-gi-oh a while ago, and I like Lord of the Rings, Star Wars, Doctor Who, and Star Trek – which is why all my friends are also nerds.  Josh is full-out obsessed with Pokemon and Yu-gi-oh, while I got over that stage years ago; now I’m just really obsessed with Doctor Who and Star Trek. Better? Meh. Honestly, probably not.

While I understand that girls can be really into those things, there are, nonetheless, no girls at Josh’s house at lunch, where we all go to play video games and argue about Yu-gi-oh strategies. I expect there never will be – and if there are, then the world is quite likely to end.

So I’ve got two more weeks, I think, before the holidays, and then a few weeks off to go look hopefully at the outdoor rinks and call my friends to see if they want to do some nerdy stuff with me, assuming they haven’t fled to somewhere nice and warm like Florida. I’ve never been to Florida – I hear it’s hot there. I don’t ever think I’ve gone on a Christmas vacation, but I don’t know if I even really want to, anyways; I’m looking forward to having a few weeks to gather back my wits, since they’ve been pretty much scattered to the winds from my four months of being at school. Wow, it’s been that long – it doesn’t really seem like it. Time doesn’t actually pass faster now that I’m at school – it just passes in a different way. In a less agonizing way, that’s for sure. There’s always the day-to-day agonies to suffer through, like not really having a friend in History. But there are high points; like doing Othello, and getting to be Iago when we read out loud. That’s the funnest thing ever, being Iago, getting to be really evil and screwing everybody else over. I got really into it and my teacher told me I’d done the reading super well – it always surprises me when teachers compliment me, since for most of my life at school they’ve more or less complained about me.

Next semester, after the big whoop of Christmas and the summatives, I kind of want to try out co-op – we had a presentation about it in class the other day, where some kids came in and talked about their jobs. (Also the co-op teacher was so polite about the issue of my gender that she called me ‘they’, which was the small victory of the day.) There was one guy who worked on cars, and I actually thought that sounded sort of fun – and I swear to God I’m not saying that to try and be manlier – but it doesn’t sound bad at all to me. I like working, putting things together, fixing things, and seeing how things work – so that might be somewhat high on my list. The only problem is I don’t know how seriously they’d take me if I said I wanted to do that. I am, after all, a somewhat short guy who obviously looks like, and is for the sake of argument, a girl. But I only miss 5″6 by the teeniest smidgen of a millimeter, so let’s just say I’m 5″6. At least that’s only 2 inches below average, and one above average for women. So not bad. Then, of course, there’s my incorrigibly girly voice – I try my hardest to banish all girly inflections, and I think I do it well, since I’ve never talked like that anyway, but in a car shop? I dunno.

“Hey, meet Brynn, he’s a boy. I think,” says Johnny the tall, gritty-looking car guy.

“Hi, Brynn,” says Bob, uncertainly.

“Hi!” I squeak.

“Say, Johnny, I dunno,” says Bob. “Let’s check the form again.”

Anyway, if not working at a car shop or at the gym to lift heavy weights in front of girls, then I think I’d like to do something with writing – like a newspaper job or something. I could write articles about being transgender, or about high school, or whatever. If not I could work with animals, like at the humane society. In any case, I think co-op would be fun – if it’s at all possible to sign up next semester, then I’ll do that. I’d rather work someplace than sit in class, anyways.

So maybe it’s time to put away the proverbial pen, because this post isn’t even about Christmas anymore, who am I fooling. I don’t imagine I’ll have much to write about until after my appointment with Dr. what’s-his-face-on Friday, which I’ll definitely need to write about, just to get it down and out of my head. I can’t wait for that. Meanwhile, I shall sail through the coming week like a small dog on a log floating in an uneven sea, clinging on for dear life while writing books and stuff. I don’t know, whatever.

See you later.


About thecellarboy

17. I write, play music, and have a cat that likes to bang his head against doors until they open. View all posts by thecellarboy

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