Christmas in July


My boyfriend and I live in a tiny apartment, above a row of low-rent businesses in the West end of downtown Toronto. It’s crowded, between the two of us, the three of our cats and our stuff. We’re people who have a lot of stuff and not a lot of space and yet we continue to live in the hopes that someday, we will get organized. I know, deep down, all the “cubic” thinking in the world isn’t going to do it but pretending is easier than parting with my junk, so that’s what we do, read the Ikea catalogue and pretend.

One of the shops downstairs has just changed hands and is now a Portuguese chicken joint. There’s a rotisserie that spins in the window and it has been getting a lot of attention around the neighborhood. People are lining up for this chicken. I have to say though, it smells better than it tastes. Not to say it tastes bad, it’s quite delicious. It’s just that it smells even better. In fact, I’m reminded of how delicious it smells every morning. It’s quite a way to wake up, to the smell of roasting chicken. I wake up every single morning thinking it’s Christmas. Turns out all slow roasted poultry pretty much smells the same. One turkey in the oven two rooms over is the equivalent to six chickens on a spit downstairs. Who knew? I guess the sense memory skills I picked up in those method acting classes I took in my early twenties have finally paid off.

It’s a real mood elevator. I wake up with a song on my lips, a twinkle in my eye and kindness for all humanity in my heart. It’s all I can do to stop from running to the window, throwing it open and yelling “You boy! Yes You! I want you to head down to the butcher shop and bring me back that turkey in the window! Ye-e-es! The one as big as you!” I manage to refrain most mornings, but it isn’t easy.

So I hop out of bed, and make my coffee. I plug in the twinkle lights and force the foam rubber antlers on the cats’ heads. They hate it, but I think they owe it to me to get into the spirit of things. After all, I’m not just the crazy lady that subjects them to wearing holiday themed headgear, I’m the one that feeds them and cleans up their poop. At least I’m the one that does that when my boyfriend is out of town. Anyway, they can’t stay mad forever. Especially not when they see what I put in their stockings!

It’s usually around now that things take a turn for the worse. I flip on the television to see if The Boys Choir of Harlem is singing carols somewhere or if PBS is showing “Holiday Inn” or “It’s A Wonderful Life” yet. Why is just bad game shows and news? Why is everyone talking about Jihad? Surely we can stop talking about Jihad for one day! And why am I so hot? It’s now that I become depressed that global warming is having such an effect on the planet that I have to turn the air conditioner on Christmas morning.

But I’m plucky. I have indelible spirit. Christmas spirit. So I put on my red sweater, the one with the fuzzy white collar and I check the answering machine, full of anticipation for the wonderful holiday greetings that are sure to be waiting for me from my friends and my family. Hey! It’s the HR guy from my office. Why is raising his voice like that? Of course I didn’t call to say I’m not coming in. Who calls to say they’re not coming in on Christmas Day? And why has nobody called to wish me a happy holiday?

It’s hard to be alone on Christmas. Not to mention being the victim of a turkey burglary. Why, the scent of it is still hanging in the air! Hanging, much like my empty stocking. It appears my boyfriend, who I thought was so loyal, has left the apartment before I awoke and he has taken my Christmas turkey with him. Why would he do this to me? Why is the world conspiring against me? On Christmas?!?!

I retreat back to my bed, alone, without turkey, presents or companionship. All I have is the smell. The smell of Christmas. And the faint knowledge that this will all happen again tomorrow morning.

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