All posts for the month December, 2017

A Christmas story for you

Published December 7, 2017 by The Merida Review

I am between books right now, so experimenting with different characters and situations, looking for the “big” one. The one I want to spend a year or so with. The one I can develop into something. Anyhow, that’s where this comes from:


A Christmas Story, sort of

Indian music is stuck in my head, relentless, bouncy, synthesized. This is from watching youtube videos. I’m learning how to make woven paper things from how-to videos that are either Russian or Indian. The Russian lady isn’t easy to understand (even with a translator) but there is one Indian lady who is brilliant at breaking the process down and showing you plainly step by step how to make these fantastic sculptures out of newspaper and cardboard and glue. All things I have laying around my house.

This is going to be Christmas this year. I was worried about Christmas – Christmas is important to me and I don’t want to let people down, they’ve come to expect a certain amount of exuberance – excess, even – from me, which is rather harder to do when you’re broke. But now I’ve got these videos and, admittedly, not much time to master the art, but I will just replace that with optimism and hey ho.

I think Christmas dinner is taken care of. I picked up a few hours at a shop downtown – the owner is always slow at paying me so I figure that money will come right about the week before Christmas. In fact, I’m hoping it does. If it comes sooner I may not be able to hang on to it. As a backup, though, I do have a jar of change. I was saving it to buy a tree – a real Christmas tree – but I’m not going to do that when I’m this skint. I have two fake Christmas trees which will have to do for another year. In fact it’s probably time they were up – the neighbors are already in full regalia and I’m sure they’re wondering about me. I was lagging behind because of the lack of presents to wrap up and put underneath. When you have the tree up, that space underneath looms large and empty and the grandkids like to check and make sure there are packages with their names on them, and I was rather dreading having a tree up with nothing underneath.

You think I exaggerate? Three weeks ago I had $40 in my purse and I’m still living off that $40, although the other day I cracked into the $20 bill. I need milk and spaghetti sauce, so it’ll be gone soon. You have no idea how frugal you can be until you’re called to do so. But don’t feel sorry for me, things will get better – I just need to get from here to there. One day at a time – like an alcoholic, hey?

I have two craft shows coming up and whatever I make at them will get me through December. It’ll have to.

I’ve become very selfish in my poverty; my world has grown very small. It’s hard for me to focus on things other than what I’ve come to think of as my Big 5: 1) rent, 2) heat, 3) electric, 4) water, 5) sewer. They loom large in my little life. They are all encompassing.

Which actually makes it quite nice to focus on Christmas, making things for other people. Yes. This is pleasant.

When I zeroed in on the one project I decided to start with, I watched that particular video over and over again. The lady doesn’t talk – she shows – you only see her hands (I’ve seen her hands in so many videos I recognize them – isn’t that funny?), accompanied by bouncy upbeat club music. When she tears up newspapers, the print is exotic; I assume Indian, but it could be one of those other exotic countries – my geography skills don’t amount to much, but it doesn’t matter. I am just awed by the fact that a lady from the other side of the world is showing me how to do this. I had to laugh this morning when I woke up with the music bouncing around in my head. Music from the other side of the world that I don’t even know, except from her video.

I’ve divided up the amount of time I have by the number of people I have to give gifts to and I can devote 3 days to each person. I think that’s the best way to deal with situations, concentrate on one aspect at a time. It’s the simplest way to be organized. I’ll be busy a couple of those days (ie, craft shows) but I’ll just have to work around those situations as they arise. Some people are easier than others and it’s not like I haven’t picked up any gifts at all. I thought it would be a normal (albeit thrifty) Christmas – I was taken rather by surprise at my lack of funds. I have things I generally do for Christmas; for instance I make the kids pajamas every year, but this year I couldn’t afford the fabric. I kept thinking I would, but it didn’t happen, so when I finally had to face up to it – well, this is the best I can come up with and the stuff is really cool, so I think people will like it.

And there’s always next year. Which will be better! I’m sure of it. And what kid really likes getting pajamas for Christmas, anyways? Honestly.

Ok, which person first? – oh please, not one of the hard ones! Names on slips of paper pulled out of a hat? What if one of the hard ones comes out first? Let’s do what we normally do, start with the simplest and work our way up and hope an idea strikes between now and then.

You know, I used to think I knew the meaning of Christmas. I was clueless. Absolutely clueless.