christmas music always makes me think about the time my grandma did not pay the electric bill
for a couple of months and our power was shut off for an entire miserable day. it was balls
deep into chicago winter and cold af, so we put the stove on 500* and stood with our faces to
the heat. my school had this event where kids were given catalogues and told to go door to
door to sell wrapping paper and cheap gifts and i sold over one thousand dollhairs worth of
bullshit so i got to pick a ~top tier prize~
a blue battery-operated radio (lol)
we could not watch tv since we did not have power so we huddled around the radio listening to
christmas songs and played a game where the first person to name the song and artist won:
chestnuts roasting on an open fire / jack frost nipping at your nose /yuletide carols being sung
by a choir / and folks dressed up like eskimos
THE CHRISTMAS SONG SUNG BY NAT KING COLE i won but my uncle said i was wrong and the
song was called ‘chestnuts roasting on an open fire’ (fucking idiot) by bing cosby and even at
ten years old i knew ‘bing cosby’ was not a thing and that i was being raised by wolves and
because we could not decide on who was right my uncle picked up the radio and smashed it
against the wall. nobody won that day.
my mom once bought wrapping paper patterned with ‘ho ho ho!’ for my uncle’s girlfriend
cherishe because she gave us lice and it took weeks to sanitize the house. my grandma never
let her come in ever again after that and cherishe would stand outside and throw rocks at his
window so he would not be late to his shift at taco bell. she always asked ma if she could please
come in, just this once, and ma’s eyes would bulge out of her head and she would say “NO. YOU
cherishe would bribe us to wake my uncle up because he would be asleep in the middle of the
day, sucking his thumb, and would not roll out of bed until four or five o’clock. me and my
sisters would get on the bed and jump up and down screaming WAKE UP YOU LAZY BUM but if
we got too close to him he would pull us in bed into a bear hug and press his morning boner
into our backs.
ho ho ho.
pulling out the christmas decorations was one of the joys of my childhood because christmas
decorations were the only fancy things we owned. ma collected a porcelain village over the
years and would set up a town under the tree on a blanket of fake snow and we had two sets of
m&m string lights that i wish i could find today.
i actually did find them, they are on ebay right now for $30 but like... i’m not rich.
sometimes ma would take us all to the dollar tree to do our gift shopping for the family but we
only did this once or twice because even the dollar tree was pricey. i got ma a bell in the shape
of a porcelain angel and a few months later for my birthday my crush steven horner got me the
same exact bell and right as i opened it my sister laughed and yell “that’s dollar store junk!” it
was v harrowing.
i would come home from school and crawl under the tree and try to take a nap with my head in
the village and ma would hit me with a broom because she was old and mean and did not let us
take naps because we would stay up all night and bother her. ma was like if olive kitteredge and
the miss trunchbull had a baby whose dad worked for the mafia. i still loved her the most and
she taught me to read and do algebra while she sat on the toilet. i honestly do not know why
she sat on the toilet so long and so often, but a lot of my childhood memories involve my
grandmother taking a very long shit and me sitting at her feet bugging her.
our small fake tree was a fucking piece of shit and fell over every year. every. single. year. it
would fall over and crush the presents and an ornament would break and we’d cry. one year it
did not fall over so my mom pushed it over because she was mad. the angel shattered so we
ripped a cereal box apart and cut out a star and wrapped it in aluminum foil and used that as
the tree topper for the next ten years.
the year my mom pushed down the tree sort of ended the tradition of the tree falling down. it
was tradition that the tree fell on its own so when my mom took matters into her won hands
the tree was like fuck it and stopped being a member of the family. that year was the worst
because my mom was being a huge asshole and for some reason decided she hated me and
only bought my sisters presents. karen wanted wwe wrestling stuff because at this time she
wanted to be a wrestler but not a female wrestler, a male wrestler (or chyna). she really hated
the female wrestlers probably because my mom would not let us watch the girl fights and
would switch the channel until they were over.
side note: my family made fun of me for thinking the undertaker was hot and i want to take a
moment to point out what bullshit that was because he is! i googled pics to be sure and yes,
still 10/10 would bone. he kind of reminds me of the hound from game of thrones who is top 5
bones of all time. shout out to young chris jericho for being hot and for his beautiful greasy hair.
i got a l’oreal kids tear-free shampoo and a mariah carey cd, the one with the rainbow across
her boobs, and that is all i got because my toys were at kmart on layaway and she missed a
payment so they took away my presents and my mom already paid for the other toys so my
sister got this massive wwe cage match set with stone cold steve austin and the undertaker
action figures and i got fish shampoo.
diddle knabb lives in chicago. you can follow her on instagram @diddlemepink
a version of this column originally appeared in Gamut Magazine december 2017