Tuesday, December 20, 2011

My story of presents

And it's not even Christmas yet!
Presents affect me differently than they do other people. Those other people seem happy, maybe even moved to tears to receive a nice present. To make people feel this small happiness is my main goal, when I give presents. But I, rather than just being happy, am having flashbacks. Let me tell you some of them.

It is custom to give children a small present on Saint Nicholas Day. It is also custom that the children clean their shoes on the day before. It's like an advance payment for Saint Nicholas. If you don't clean your shoes, you're considered a naughty child and won't receive any presents in said shoes. Because that's where the present will be put: in your shoes on the morning of Saint Nicholas Day. This is also what defines the size of your present, since it has to fit in your shoes. Of course, sweets are also usually given. I wasn't such an usual case as a child, though. I never liked sweets a lot, so my parents stopped giving them to me. Instead I received (very old-fashioned) tangerines, oranges, apples and nuts and the obilgatory chocolate Santa. I was very happy with it and the chocolate ended up being thrown away most of the times. As I was getting older, the rule that the present has to fit in my shoe kinda evaporated. How can you ever fit a book in a shoe? Even a small one won't fit, so what.
One Saint Nicholas Day, when I was 16, I remember distinctly. As I was getting ready for school, I checked on my shoes and found them empty. Saint Nicholas hadn't visited my house so to say. I was a bit shocked and kinda sad, but thought to myself "Maybe my parents consider me too old for this and they even might be right." I therefore wasn't angry. I just wished my parents had told me before. I would have saved me useless anticipation and quite some disappointment and sadness. But there was no changing it, しょうがない, so off to school I went. I didn't fear I'd have to tell my classmates that I didn't get anything. We were too old for the what-did-you-get-game by then. I wouldn't have to tell anybody. Also I had decided not to talk about this with my parents. I wouldn't say anything and this day, too, would be over soon and next year I would know better not to expect anything.
But, there's always a but, I had the course Social Science that day and our teacher really took an interest in what we got for Saint Nicholas Day. So everybody, about 12 people, had to describe it in full detail. When it came to me (I was cursing on the inside. No chance to dodge the question, dammit!), I just said "Nuthin" to which our teacher looked very surprised and asked "What? Why? Oh. Isn't this a custom in your family?" I told her, it was a custom in my family. "Then why didn't you get anything?" I told her, I didn't know. She got silent after this, gave me a look I couldn't interpret and then changed the subject, starting the real lesson then.
As I got home, I didn't really think about Saint Nicholas Day that much anymore. I'm still like that today: When I get home from university or work, a new day starts. Per definition, it's a new day. Sometimes I even sleep a bit to be able to wake up to my new day. So as I came home, my father was in the living room, greeting me through the open door, but didn't come out to see me. Yelling through the house instead of talking face to face is very common in my family. I went to the kitchen to fetch something to eat and on the kitchen table lay... a book and some sweets. I was surprised and unsure what to do now, so I asked my dad (yelling through the house, as usual those days) "This book here and the sweets...?" He yelled back "There for you, of course, for Saint Nicholas Day." "But this morning, why..?" "You didn't clean your shoes, silly."
I had cleaned my shoes, but they were so worn out, that cleaning didn't do a thing. What I needed were new shoes, same as new clothing altogether. But that's another story. Point is, my father didn't see me cleaning them and the effect wasn't visible, so he had decided to punish me this way. He didn't know, he had done this based on wrong assumptions and he also didn't know that I didn't finish my last question because I had started crying really hard. Tears were running down my cheeks and I covered my mouth with my hand, so my father wouldn't hear me.
Still feel like the most spoiled child on earth when thinking about this story. But to this day, it still affects my view of presents and anticipation.

Another story is the story of Christmas last year. I spent a quite shite Christmas full of work and frustration. It was American-style and I had a stocking and was taught the stocking only contains sweets and a small present, while the real presents are to be found under the Christmas tree. Okay, I thought. So I had something in my stocking, something small, but didn't get the real present. Certain Someone apologized, he didn't have the time to get something plus he had no idea what to get me. But I had wished explicitly for something, I reminded him. He had forgotten. I felt betrayed.

The next story is tied closely to last Christmas. It was my birthday in January and Certain Someone invited me over and first thing told me, I wouldn't get a present. He didn't have time to get something plus he had no idea what to get me. Sounded bleak to me and I was sad and furious. He promised to make up for it in the following weeks, but needless to say this never happened.

So after stories like this, I became convinced that I shouldn't anticipate at all. Neither presents nor anything at all. And if presents were to be involved, I would wish very clearly for what I want. This way I would never be disappointed again. Works pretty good so far, concerning the disappointment at least.
I wished for something from the Auction Winner. He is gone over the holidays and I wished for him to come back to me. He was a bit taken by surprise by my wish, but said, he would come back. A day before he left, he gave me a present. Wrapped and all. I was very surprised, didn't anticipate this at all. Said Thank you a few times, while he told me repeatedly that it was only "something small". Being alone back home I had a minor breakdown, while staring at the present. All those stories I just told you flashed back and I couldn't stifle them.
I still haven't opened the present and what's in it isn't the point to me. His thoughts are. To give me a present even though he could have easily gotten around it. I'm sure, he doesn't know just how much this isn't "something small" to me.

I think this Christmas is going to be a lot better than last year's. Even with the Auction Winner far away I'll try to just enjoy it. I'll be with my friends only and skip the hurtful family part.
I told y'all my story of presents and will now stop to wallow in my sadness. Try to, anyway.


On a different note: As I was writing this in a bakery, while waiting for my train, the old woman sitting next to me got up to leave and said "Goodbye, have a nice day". I replied, that I wished her a nice day, too. And what did she say? "I'll make my day nice on my own." And smiled. Now that's the right attitude!

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Letters

Today I wanted to clean up the area above my desk. Loads of letters were lying there, awaiting my decision if they're worthy or not. Worthy to keep, that is.
So I was sorting through them and one was found worthy. It was a postcard from my dad's holiday last summer. I like that he sends me postcards, even though they have no content whatsoever. Just "the weather is nice, we have so much fun here" and never anything more. But the pictures are always nicely sought out and I appreciate the thought. I wanted to put said postcard in the box where I keep worthy letters and postcards. And card games. I'm so very sorry, but they have to share the box. It shouldn't be that bad, I only own three card games. But of course it's bad, very bad. I opened the box and it was filled to the brim. The card games were drowning in letters and postcards and whatnot and whimpering for help. The help, that's me.
I spilled the box's content over my (just cleaned-up) desk and started the sorting process. As expected I found stuff I didn't even remember I still have. Some things I didn't even remember I ever got them!
I hate keeping things for the sake of remembrance! A lot of people tried to talk me out of this, but I still think I have my head to remember. And if I don't remember this or that? Well then, fuck it. I probably needed the bandwidth for something more important.
What is worthy to keep then? Found worthy were most of the postcards from my parents. Not the ugly ones or those with only two lines on them, of course. I also kept lotsa birthday letters, because they were nice and/or pretty. The letters from France I kept, too, even though they are 10 years old and the odds we will ever have contact again are slight. I threw out letters from ex-boyfriends and those who had a unrequited crush on me. Why did I ever put that in this box! Lazy me. I also threw out loads out letters from former BFFs. No point in keeping that stuff, when the friendship died a peaceful death years ago.
As I was going through all those letters and cards that I hadn't looked at for years (I should maybe clean up more often, huh?), I felt that they all were just a burden for me. I mostly stuffed them in this box to forget about them and be able to throw them out some time later. Never would I have thought it would take years...
Anyhow, I reduced this mass of emotional scribble on all kinds of paper (square, round, flower-shaped, with smell) to less than a third. The card games were happy to have some space to breathe again. Peace in the box was restored as they didn't have to kick the letters anymore. My inner peace was restored as well, as I feel much lighter now. Throwing stuff out makes me feel free, light and enlightened.
So not only did I clear the area above my desk, I also cleared the worthy-letters-box and my soul, too. I'm such an hero today.

Thursday, December 01, 2011

December

Wow! It's already December.
Lately I've had so much to do, so much to take care of and a private life to tend to on top if it all, that I (being German and in the mood to translate literally so that nobody might really understand) didn't know "where my head was". Time was just flying by and I had lost all feeling for it. In my head actually it's still summer! The weather outside seems to be making fun of me with all that cold and rain and cold rain. I was just too busy. My to-do-list was getting longer everyday and in the mornings I had trouble getting out of bed, because who wants to get started on all those effing tasks?! Certainly not me, I would like to have someone (a minion maybe) to take care of all that shite.
But now things have calmed down a bit. The to-do-list is still long, but the tasks on it are less tough. I'm able to see ahead, which is a nice thing. Getting up in the morning is still not desirable, but that might mean nothing but I'm a sleepyhead.

As for Christmas, I'm so not in the mood. I have nice plans for Christmas itself, but to spend all December in anticipation isn't exactly me. I don't even want to decorate the flat. My flatmate (the nice one) is already totally into Christmas-mode and spent hours on creating decoration. But for me it's all still far away. Still summer, ya know?
Last Christmas was kinda shite though and I hope this one will be better. I will visit friends and not bother with my family, because they suck at Christmas and at being nice to me. Will visit my mother to celebrate New Year's though, so fingers crossed, we won't kill each other in the process! No risk, no fun! Yay!

Future posts are in the making, so this blog won't die.