All I want for Christmas

The staff room where I taught in my first job had a ‘Wall of Horror’ out of sight of students. On the wall were shelves of purple glitter dolphins, bizarre plastic masks, a large phallic icon from some fertility festival and a horrible horrible plethora of Hello Kitty items. These were the truly horrendous gifts we had been given as ‘foreign’ teachers. Not every gift made it to the Wall of Horror. It took me a year before the tie I had been given by the group of paranoid Taiwanese army sergeants who had made it clear from the start that they didn’t want any girl teaching them, could be accepted as worthy – in all its appalling glory, of the wall. I’d worn it as a badge of dishonour for most of the year after the official notice had been issued that all female teachers were to wear skirts. Not every Hello Kitty item made it either. To be accepted as a true gift of horror it had to be entirely pointless – it’s very existence had to confront all rationalism and engender a shudder just beholding it. The Hello Kitty furry toilet seat warmer was a centrepiece, from memory.

It seems slightly evil to be thinking of really appalling gifts to give people at Christmas time – does it make it worse that this cheers me up? I only realised the true extent of my grinchishness when I looked at the titles on my internet browsing history and they were, in order:1) Christmas sucks. 2) Christmas is for losers. 3) Psycho Christmas.

The fact that I had spent a happy hour looking at the websites that actually exist for these titles and found an excellent new Christmas carol called Psycho Christmas by a punk band, is immaterial. The point being that there was a community of like-minded grinches who feel ambivalent towards what is supposed to be a time of loving, forgiving and turkey. Perhaps I should create a support group. The thing is that while I love Christmas, I suffer from Yuletide guilt – it seems vaguely mean to wallow in the festivities when so many, have had such a deeply rotten year. Divorces, the loss of a child, or a business hitting the rocks seem to be brought into sharp relief when the world seems to be conspiring to appear to be the Waltons on cocaine. While there’s no point in having a deeply rotten Christmas just to be empathetic to friends having hard times – there is something perversely pleasurable about the thought of truly horrible gift giving just to take the seriousness and sting out of it all. I’ll start with all my silly lefty friends of which there are a few. I will give them a copy of Sarah Palin’s new book. When they say ‘You really shouldn’t have’ I will know they really mean it.
The eco-nuts might enjoy tasteful animal parts as souvenirs in the Australian style. Like a kangaroo’s balls, preserved as a cigarette lighter. They won’t know whether to thank me or turn me over to the authorities.
Family members might be exposed to the joys of an opshop toy rescue bid. Truly creepy dolls toys and crafts end up in op shops and must be released. Some of the dolls that I’ve freed from the likes of Hospice or Salvation Army look like they’d need an exorcism before they could be gifted. I might save those for my special friends. For recalcitrant work colleagues I could gift something truly memorable – like an hour with Wayne Peters for example– but no. Not even I’m that mean. And then there is always the imaginary gift. The one that you wish existed. I know what it looks like. It’s a music video of Christmas Carols sung by Lockwood Smith and Phil Heatley, with Rodney Hide as the principal dancer to ‘yellow bird… up high in banana tree…yellow bird you sit all alone like me…” John Banks with his groovy glasses would play bongo. If it exists – it’s all I want for Christmas.

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