Going Postal: Day 22

grinch.jpgDay 22: Merry Christmas

As I sit down to write this, it is officially Christmas. So, Merry Christmas…if that’s your thing. For my present, the United States Postal Service was kind enough to let me go home after only working eight hours. But have no doubts, they still worked my ass like my name was Kunta Kinte. It may have only been eight hours, but it still felt like twelve.

There’s not much to say about this most recent shift. The highpoint of the night was listening to a conversation between two men who barely speak English. My main man Mo’ Money was conversing with Mr. Cuba, and I’m pretty sure neither could understand what the other was talking about—I know I couldn’t understand any of it. But it was this great moment, like something out of a Jim Jarmusch film. The only thing missing was Roberto Benigni or Tom Waits, and some Screamin’ Jay Hawkins playing in the background. It was one of those sappy, almost Hallmark moments that sort-of distilled the whole melting-pot ideology that can define America at its best. Don’t get me wrong, because I’m certainly both critical and cynical about the U.S., but the fact that you can be in a country surrounded by so many different people, from so many other places, is pretty amazing to me.

I wish I could say that I was excited about Christmas, but I’m not. When I was a kid it was the greatest day of the year; not just because of the presents, but because of all the family I would get to see. We usually spent Christmas at my grandparents, who had a revolving door of friends and family that would come through all day long. You never knew who was going to show up. One year a prince from Nigeria spent the day with us.

Sadly, a lot of the people that would come through my grandparent’s doors on Christmas have since passed away—including my grandparents. I miss the people far more than I miss getting presents. In fact, I would trade every present I’ve ever been given—or better yet, the financial equivalent to every present I’ve ever been given (adjusted for inflation)—if I could spend just one more day with my grandparents as they were, before they got sick and died.

My grandmother, Nannie H. Walker, was the greatest person I have ever known in my life. My mom is great—really fucking great—but my grandmother was, as the kids say, the bomb. And she gave the best presents because they were absolutely insane. She would give me and my cousins things like cases of our favorite soda, random books that I don’t think she ever expected us to read, and odd trinkets that could either be something very profound or meaningless. You would look at the presents she gave you and think, “What the hell was grandma thinking when she got me this?” And a split second later, you would answer the question by thinking to yourself, “She loves me.”

I believe the last Christmas I spent with the majority of my family was 1983. My grandmother was already sick at that point with terminal brain cancer, but it hadn’t robbed her of that much of her memory. She was still very much like who she was before she became ill, and it was almost easy to fool yourself into believing she was fine. But she wasn’t fine, she was never going to be fine, and I knew then that that would be the last time the entire family would be together.

I don’t want this to degenerate into some melancholy little trip down memory lane, but I miss my grandmother so much right now. Maybe it’s because life has been a little rough as of late, and I wish she was here to give me a hug and tell me everything is going to be fine. But I’ll tell you, nothing would make me feel better than one of those miniature pound cakes she would make just for me.

There comes a point when certain people have been out of your life longer than they were in it, and the memories become fragmented, which makes them all the more precious. And you hold on to those remaining memories, because if they go, then there’s the distinct possibility that nothing will remain of that person. While we live, we are the sum total of our experiences, but once we are gone, we are merely the sum total of the memories that others have of us. You can be a wealthy person who donates millions of dollars to places and foundations all bearing your name; but what good is it if no one actually remembers who you were?

None of this really has anything to do with the mail or working at the post office. This is just some of what I’m thinking about at 2:30 in the morning on Christmas. The other things I’ve been thinking about—the things that have been weighing on my mind and soul—are actually things I can’t bring myself to write about. And considering I just wrote about having intercourse with midgets, that’s saying a lot.

Even though I’m not really a fan of the holiday, I still appreciate the basic sentiment of Christmas—the peace, love and well-wishing that are the true meanings behind what has become a grossly commercial entity that helps fuel this capitalist society. And even though I think everyday should be a day where we take time out to contact friends and family to let them know how much we love them, I know that that can be difficult to do. So as long as you can use this day as an excuse to tell people you love them, then I can’t totally hate this holiday. And if you are a person who can hold the true meaning of this day in your heart—even if you don’t really celebrate—then let me say to you, “Merry Christmas.” And if you can’t find room in your heart for love on this day, or any other day for that matter, let me say to you, “Fuck off. You’re better off dead.”

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