I looked over at my baby brother, who is about two years younger than I am, and told him, "All I felt when I held you for the first time was a sense of bizarre fascination."
"I tend to inspire that feeling," Paul replied.
Really--I remember thinking, "This kid is HUGE!" Infant-Paul was as big as I was at the time. I remember wondering, "When will he do something? He's just lying there, staring!" And I recall concluding, "This is boring. Time for Care Bears!" Then I got out my Care-a-Lot Playset and all my Care Bears and played.
In short, Tiny Laura wondered what the big deal was about having a baby brother. Thankfully, by the time Tiny Paul was mobile, Tiny Laura had realized what having a sibling was all about: Having someone to bring you things when you're too lazy to do it yourself. Younger siblings will also kill bugs for you and make you soup when you're sick, if you're nice to them from time to time*.
Since I would have been lying and talking about God in the same sentence, I had to opt out of doing the Advent reading. After that, I was depressed. Then I wondered how it could be that it isn't even December yet and ALREADY I have no holiday spirit. Suddenly I realized why.
It's YOUR fault.
Well, maybe not you specifically, but it certainly isn't MY fault. I woke up with holiday spirit, people. It was there. Holiday spirit doesn't just vanish for no reason. Other people are the reason. But some of you are innocent, and to ensure that you only accept blame if you deserve it, I have compiled a list of all the things that make me angry, vengeful, or bitter.**
If you are shopping and you spy a relative or friend and choose to stop right there in the store and have a nice chat, then I hate you. Why? It's not because you've decided to discuss the hideous tumors recently removed from your mutual friend Gladys, it's because you're standing there, forcing everyone who walks through the bookstore to walk around you while simultaneously preventing me from grabbing the book I came to buy. Also, I hate you MORE because you've chosen to ignore my polite "excuse me" six or seven times already, because you and your conversation are clearly so much more important than I am.
Another quick way to earn my eternal loathing is by ignoring basic rules of personal space. Say we are standing in line. I expect you to have to reach out your arm slightly in order to push me. If you're using your body to move the line forward like a linebacker, clad in a hand-made holiday sweatshirt and too much Love's Baby Soft, you're too close. Personal space is important. In fact, I can promise you that pressing against me will not make the line go faster. It will make me go slower. I only look for exact change when people like you are breathing on me.
Debit and credit card machines not working? That's too bad. But if you know you can't accept card-based transactions and still choose not to put up a sign, then force me and my fellow customers to wait for over 40 minutes in line before we find out we can't pay you for our Mod Podge and adhesive-backed crystals, I hate you. Yes, that happened to me, on Black Friday at JoAnn's in Kokomo. I outed you, JoAnn's. See? I went in to get basic holiday crafting supplies, was greeted by a volunteer at the door, did my shopping, waited in line for over 40 minutes, and then found out I'd waited for nothing, because JoAnn's wasn't able to process any credit or debit card transactions. Luckily, my mother had cash. Otherwise, I would have squewerd Bitter JoAnn's Lady, who wasn't just without a computer that worked, she had no sense of decency, either.***
If you are my father, and you make a Christmas list filled with items that are Very Expensive or Irish whistles or both, I want to murder you. Yep. That one pretty much explains itself. Dad has more whistles than he needs, and at this point, after all these years, I'm sick of listening to them. As for the Expensive ideas...I just had my gallbladder sucked out of my body via four tiny holes in my stomach. I'm betting that will be pricey, and I'm betting my insurance won't cover it all. So...let's try and keep Christmas ideas affordable, unless you want me to go out into the yard, find pebbles, scrub them, paint them, affix googly eyes to them, and name the rocks things like Gabby Gallstone and her spinster sister, Gerty Gallstone, and their friend, Gabriel Gallstone IV, MP. Then I will make you a paper mache habitat**** for your new friends, wrap them up, and let you open them on Christmas morning.
Refusing to make Christmas plans until the last minute will make me want to slaughter you and roast you on a spit in place of the Christmas ham or turkey. I want to hang out over Christmas! I do! But when you refuse to nail down a day for the plans to take place, I get into trouble. See, I have work and family and friends who also want to see me. As much as I'd like to cancel all my holiday celebrations when you call me at the last minute, it isn't going to happen. I will also want to kill you if you tell me you want to do something on a particular day, then never call me back and/or call me when you're at home.*****
See? Those aren't too hard to avoid, are they? If you do, your holiday season will be filled with a Happy Laura who sings carols as she walks around the department store and knits you a hat when she notices you're getting cold! If you don't, though, you will force my friends to endure Scrooge Laura, who will sit on their respective couches while they wrap presents, scowling at Bing Crosby as he sings about snow.
*I cannot guarantee that all siblings will behave as mine does. Your sibling may hit you repeatedly and steal your clothes, wreck your car, and leave wet towels on the bathroom floor. If this happens, lock your door and practice your right cross.**Naturally, these are only holiday-related. If I wrote an all-encompassing list of things that make me angry, vengeful, or bitter, I would be writing it for years. I would die working on the list, at the ripe age of 116. Someone would come to check on me and find my fingers curled over the keyboard, the scowl still etched into my face.
***I'm not overreacting, I promise. She was NASTY. She treated me like it was my fault her computer wasn't working. But I don't control crashing computers, even though I wish I could!
****I'm envisioning a flesh-toned rendering of an English country village, except the river would be a lurid green color.
*****This hasn't happened yet, but, before the holiday season is over, it WILL.