Chicken Pox Christmas

For over 23 Christmases I’ve received a significant number of gifts that would make any child happy. And though I could go in to detail, I’m not sure how much mass appeal there is in article titled: “Graham Lists His Christmas Gifts, Which is Mostly Video Games But With the Odd Pair of Socks and Underpants.” As such, I’ll use this time to remember the tender and nostalgic moments I’ve experienced over the holidays. Those gentle and quiet moments of familial bonding, wherein I, an only child, became closer to my parents and family.

I remember once I uh…We…Um…There was a uh…There were some relatives visiting and uh…

Ok wait, forget that one! It was probably overly sentimental and hokey. Here’s a real good one. Umm. I…had a…uh…hat and it…

Geez, this is embarrassing.

OH! I remember now. This one’s a real kicker. A holiday story that will inspire you and yours:

It was Christmas 2000. As my mother made pancakes and my father did the holiday tradition of “putting all of the wrapping paper into a garbage bag,” I hauled all of my gifts upstairs. Snow was falling outside, and the unnatural cold temperatures of Winnipeg in the winter remained at bay. Yes, it was a truly picturesque scene. The one you might find on a Christmas card, or at the very least, brag about in a Christmas card to those friends you see all that often. As I finished piling my gifts onto my bed, I was overcome with an itch on my chest, which I immediately scratched at through my Spider-Man onesie (admit it, you had a onesie too.) The itch relieved, I began to make my way back downstairs for Christmas breakfast-but along the way, I was overcome with another. And then another. And then another, until finally, I found myself in a full-on scratch panic. I bolted into the bathroom and unzipped the front of my onesie to discover that I had been given the greatest Christmas gift of all: Chickenpox!

And so I spent the remainder of my Christmas holidays coated in cream and ointment. It would be a memory to cherish for years to come, and it was, without question: the Best Christmas Ever.

Wait, why was that the memory I remembered?! That wasn’t a good Christmas memory at all. If anything it was really depressing. That’s the type of thing that ruins the holidays, not defines them. But that said, it’s things like this that have become almost more defining of the holiday season than the holidays themselves–the delighting in the miseries of others. Indeed, one of my favourite new holiday traditions is to look at Twitter on Christmas and search for the people who are angry that they didn’t get a car or new phone. Whining has become the new caroling, and basking in schadenfreude has become just as welcoming as basking in the glow of a fireplace.

That’s not to say that I’ve completely forgotten all the ‘good’ holidays memories I have. They’re just harder to discern from one another. The Christmas where I received a Nintendo 64 isn’t that different from the one where I received a Gamecube, and the Christmas where I was visited by my aunt wasn’t all that dissimilar from the other Christmas where I was visited by that same aunt.

Maybe that’s just me. I’m the type of person who is quicker to tell a story about my perils with orthodontics and jaw surgery than I am to tell a story about the time I won a race. As much as we may hate to admit it, there’s a holiday routine that we fall into–the purchasing of gifts, opening them, having dinner–and the things that deviate from that stand out. For me, it’s the Christmas where I had chicken pox. For you, it might be the Christmas where a relative said something horrible!

So this holiday season, try to take the bad with the good. Who knows, it may become a great anecdote (or online article) one day.

Graham Sigurdson is the Chief Copy Editor for the summer edition of On The Danforth. He knows a lot about nothing, and will be quick to prove that when asked. He complains a lot on his twitter.

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