All I want for Christmas is [_______]

All I want for Christmas is [_____]
All I want for Christmas is a giant bedazzled green triangle
Five days before Christmas (and one day before the end of the world) I went to The Base, the mega mall on the outskirts of Hamilton that’s played a significant part in sucking the life out of downtown Hamilton, which is such a mid-20th-century thing to do. So retro.

Anyway, it was right in the middle of the pre-Christmas crazy period, when the stress starts with finding a car park and ends with wondering what sort of consolation present makes up for not being able to buy an iPad Mini as they’re all sold out. Not that such issues plagued me, but I like to empathise with the middle-classes, etc.

My issue was the music. As to be expected, Christmas songs were on high rotate. But here’s the thing – I heard four different versions of “All I Want For Christmas Is You”. At one point, I could position myself near the bath bomb selection of Lush and simultaneously hear the Michael Buble version in the store and the original Mariah version in the main mall. It even followed me outside, with a third version playing on the PA in the car park, and another one aurally ruffling me as I passed by a shop.

“All I Want For Christmas Is You” is a great song. As a gift of the ’90s, it’s a far better contribution to Christmas pop than anything the ’60s or ’70s managed. But when it’s coming at me as a quadrophonic retail extravaganza, this does not lead to a pleasing experience.

But here’s the thing. I wasn’t at the mall to buy Christmas presents, but yet I found myself getting a $2 bag of candy canes because it felt like the correct seasonal thing to do. Ach, Mariah – you’ve sucked me into your vortex of glad tidings and good pop.

Present, presents

Christmas this year feels like it almost passed me by unscathed. Somehow I managed to avoid most of the worst aspects of the festive season.

Earlier in the month I was in Farmers and they were attempting to set a festive mood by playing early-’90s-style R&B versions of Christmas songs. It didn’t liven my spirit and send me merrily a-skippin’ to the till. It just annoyed me – really annoyed me – so I left.

You know all those Christmas pop songs that no one likes but everyone plays every Christmas, like the musical abominations that are “Snoopy’s Christmas” and “Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer”? Well, I managed to avoid hearing any of those in their entirety.

I’m not sure quite how I managed that, but I think it might have had something to do with not actually having much Christmas shopping to do. Buying stuff online or at other times during the year is a good way of avoiding Christmas craziness. (Not that you’ll do it, but I’m just sayin’.)

But for the times I did venture into shops, I found one really good way to stay sane: listening to good music on my iPod in the shop. It had the added bonus of making shop assistants leave me alone – it’s just that much harder to ask me if I need help with anything or if I’m just happy browsing. But it did mean that they eyed me suspiciously, as if perhaps I was actually listening to the audio book “U Can Steal It! Shoplifting in seven easy steps!”

As for Christmas Day itself, well, it was boring, but that’s how it always is. If most of the day was grey, there was a bright moment of gold when Christmas lunch was served. We went for slow-baked salmon this year, which quite frankly kicks the arse of anything ham or turkey may have to offer.

And I will make this observation: comedy presents are fine, but when you get one real present and the rest are comedy ones, it does get a little depressing when you realise that all those nicely wrapped presents are $2 Shop lolz. Yeah, I guess if you stop believing in Santa, he stops believing in you.

But, you know, no matter what goes on on Christmas Day, it’s never a bad day. I have my spunky new camera, and generally stuff is rather good.

A bit… metro’

I got two (2) Christmas presents, and they were both things I wanted.

– A 10 gig iPod.
– A George Foreman grill.

I’m very excited about getting the George Foreman grill (or the “Lean Mean Fat Reducing Grilling Machine”). I’ve heard they’re very versatile, and will surely do a better job than my difficult gas powered oven grill.

My iPod rules. I have it filled up with all my mp3s, and I’ve acquired a whole lot of new ones from my brother. It’s brilliant.

Oh, speaking of brilliance, I noticed that the Queen used “brilliant” in her Christmas message. That’s not as in “extremely intelligent” or “incredibly bright and shiny”, but is the slangy brilliant, as in “quite good, really.” See, her majesty is down with the common people.

Ho ho ho

Last night, while hangin’ with my homies in my favourite IRC channel, I commented:

I’m waiting for the news item reporting a local low-income family who has their house broken into (under mysterious circumstances) and has all their Christmas presents stolen, then a variety store chain gives them hundreds of dollars worth of cheap shit presents.

Well, it happened, but with a slightly different reaction.

The mother seems almost embarrassed at the swag that’s come her way from seasonally generous retailers. The article notes that she’d saved up all year long for the presents and food, but she says she plans on giving away much of the stuff to people less off than her. Now that’s the Christmas spirit!

My dad got a gift hamper from one of his work associates. There was a bunch of food packed in a wooden box filled with wood shavings. One of my parents’ cats likes sitting in boxes, so after the food had been taken out, my brother put the box on a chair and showed it to her. She got in it, but instead of hanging out in it, she scratched at the wood shavings, then sat down and went wees.

Bling bling

I used to work for an internet company. One year in December, everyone got this letter. All spelling, grammar and punctuation is as it was in the original:

25 DEC 1998 [The date had been added later with a rubber stamp]

Well it’s Christmas again.

This time we decided to splurge and get you all something you would like, a pen, a bottle of wine and some shares in [the company].

Yes that’s right we have decided to give all the staff some shares in this company, you have all worked hard and deserve to participate in the future wealth of this business. How it will work is yet to be full determined.

But it will be something like this:

– We will put up to 5% of the shares in a trust for the Staff when we go public next April.
– Those shares will stay in trust for 2 years until we list the company on the Stock Exchange.
– At the time you will be given your shares and can do as you wish with them.
– The amount you get will be based on your salary i.e. your salary/total salaries of the company.
– You will only be eligible if you are still employed at the time of the Stockexchange listing.
– There will be a lot more details provided in the future on the finer points.

Basically what it all means is, that if you work your butt off over the next few years you will end up quite wealthy. Now you may say how wealthy. Well for example someone who is on $30,000 p.a. at the time of the float could expect to own shares worth up to $200,000, if we all work hard.

You now have a real chance to participate in the potential of this company.

We look forward to the next few years, they will no doubt be exciting ones.

Merry Christmas and thank you for all your hard work.

[The names of the company directors. It was unsigned.]

The company never went public, it was never listed on the stock exchange. Most of the staff working there at the time the letter was written had left within a couple of years (I left three months later).

The bottle of wine exploded all over my bed. Coming back after the summer break, I discovered that the pen had leaked, resulting in all the other pens sticking to the bottom of my pen cup.

As exciting as it was to get a letter promising $200,000, I don’t think many people seriously expected to ever see that money.

Robyn pulled a pistol on Christmas

Hey, you know how near New Year’s there’s always some hilarious person who makes a list of new year’s resolutions and suggests giving up smoking but (ha ha) if you don’t smoke (ha ha), start smoking and then quit!! Ha ha ha!

So that’s what I’m doing. Only it’s possibly the dumbest thing I’ve ever done in my entire life. Do you know how much it sucks to be suffering from nicotine withdrawal? Like, it sucks a lot.

See, I’m at my parents place and I don’t want to be all “d’you mind if I smoke?” Cos shit like that would make my momma cry and it’s not really work going through the “mom, dad: I smoke” when I’m just going to be quitting in a week. So I’m just tolerating it. I should have got some gum, or the patch, or, or, or maybe I should have just not started smoking in the first place, Yeah, that would have been the best thing.

bFM sent an email mourning Joe Strummer but somehow felt it was necessary to remind people to buy a b-card. I thought that was a little insensitive. Can’t commerce be kept out of stuff like that? Especially at this time of year.

I got the coolest present from my bro in England. It’s a book called “Rainbow Climbing High” by Mike Anderiesz. It’s a subversive but loving look at “Rainbow”, the British children’s TV program. It’s totally perfect and has plenty of dirty old adult jokes hidden amongst the Bungle-in-a-tutu pictures. I literally laughed my arse off. I’m hoping I’ll get a new arse for Christmas.

Sentiment, sediment

There was a big ol’ box at the post office. Inside it were the following items:

* Two wooden salt and pepper shakers shaped like cats, complete with googly eyes. When you tip the pepper cat up, it makes a noise like a cat would make if it was really sick. The salt one doesn’t make it, probably because it’s broken.

* A wooden mortar and pestle. Which is cool, but wood doesn’t seem like the right material for a mortar and pestle to be made out of. Possible solution: use the bowl for pot pourri and give the pestle to a special friend for Christmas but pretend it’s an exotic sex toy.

* A wooden box with a blue tile lid. It’s quite nice. I’m not sure what to put in it. If I had some cigars I could keep them in it. But I don’t have any cigars. Perhaps I should buy some?

* “Incidental Furniture” a book published in 1953 about how to make all those incidental pieces of furniture around the home. I think I need to make a radio cabinet.

* “The Autograph Man” by Zadie Smith. I’ve been wanting to read this. Hooray!

I had dinner at the OLC with Dylz, LL Cool R, Jakmes, and that other guy. Actually, I just made up all those nicknames five seconds ago. I don’t actually call them by nicknames. Sometimes Dylan is called Trixie McLicious.

Dylzno gave me a CD with a video selection of me talking about the goddess. It was at the Basque Park festival in early 2001 and my hair is short and blonde. It’s quite funny, and Dylzno has threatened to shrink it down to a small size so I can have it up on my web site.

Finally, I drove down Franklin Road. There were so many people driving down there to check out the Christmas lights that traffic was crawling. But it was ok. the slow traffic meant I could see everything. There were heaps of people walking along the footpath too. The locals were hanging out on their front porches, someone had a stand selling coffee (yeah, yeah, it’s becoming commercialised, totally selling out. T-shirts next year, perhaps?), but there was a really good vibe to it. A song by Nesian Mystik came on the radio and everything felt right, like this is what Christmas in Auckland in 2002 is meant to be like.