Each year I gather around me a breviary of Christmas or holiday books that I read in December. This year I began my booklist by reading John Updike's The Twelve Terrors of Christmas. This is a quick read. Less than five minutes. And among John Updike's lesser-known works, this book is a humorous side glance at the traditional Twelve Days of Christmas song and the traditional St. Nick poem. In short, it's Updike's take on his own holiday dislikes.
Of course, we all have of our own. Or, at least, I have mine.
Among my terrors are:
* Wal-Mart. Am I really going to stand in these long lines inside America's #1 retail store in order to save a few dollars on Christmas gifts like Pepto Bismol (for my mom), Milk-of-Magnesia (for dad) and Pork-n-Beans (for uncle Phil)? I don't think so. I'll be making scarves this year out of plastic bread bags, or using refrigerator lint balls and dog hair to weave a majestic afghan for my aunt. These gifts are preferable to shopping at Wal-Mart. Sorry Sam. I'm staying home.
* Tube Socks. I've instructed me wife and children (actually commanded!) that they are NOT to buy me any Christmas gifts this year. And this year I mean it! Don't make me get out of this chair! Don't make me come over there and open that package of tube socks! I mean it. Let me sleep in. I mean it. I don't want anything. And if there's one package under the tree with my name on it . . . .
*The Tree. When I was a kid we used to steal our tree each year. Oh, that we might return to the good old days. What's the deal with paying $100 for a dry, brittle twig? Can't stand the thought of it. This year, I'm requesting we decorate one of our floor lamps instead. And no lights. Just two bulbs (one green, one read) dangling from the 60-watt bulb. I think it would be beautiful. But I'm still working on the concept.
I'm sure I could think of other terrors. After all, I'm nothing but a living, breathing cornucopia of neuroses, psychoses, and fears. But for now, these are the only fears I can name. I'll have to ask my wife to remind me of the rest.