…I think it’s called “Long Nights” or something about turkeys and the French.
Written by Sarah E Melville
The nights are eternal now. They start at half five and stretch on into late dawns and my father has to wake up in the dark and drive in the dark and when he comes home it’s dark again and his whole daylight world is purchased from him.
This happens around the time of the best holiday and stretches over the boring holiday about Puritans and then the red and green holiday about presents, and into the days of past presidents’ birthdays pretending to be holidays. But no one really cares — if you don’t get out of school or work, it’s not important. The postal workers get the day off, and you wonder why, why do all the postal workers get to withhold my mail because Washington was born? Washington didn’t get his mail withheld on his birthday. He got his damned mail.
It’s the long nights that get everyone into this holiday mode. Snowflakes appear on our coffee cups, stores are filled with the artificial scents of spices — like hospital gowns, not gowns, and like latex gloves, not gloves. This will confuse future civilisations once we are gone and English is dead. When is a gown not a gown and a glove not a glove?
The relatives that show themselves around these holidays are like minimum wage jobs, auspicions of a future without effort. They keep our minds open; I don’t know how all extended families manage to be so traditional, even with people like us in the mix. But maybe it’s because that we, due to our lot of character, die before we reproduce. We fade away until, one day, we decide to stick our head in the oven — You see, we really are open-minded. Your extended family would never think of putting anything except the turkey in the oven.
But the holidays aren’t all that bad. In America we have lots of floundering for identity, and this seeps into our Thanksgivings and Christmases as well. We remember that great-great-great was of some European heritage, and we google ‘culture’ and end up putting toys in our cakes. This is only okay to do with the intermediate family, because someone in the extended family will sue if they get the toy and it gives them a toothache. These sorts of things always happen when you pretend to be French when you’re not.
We don’t have this problem in my family. We are Very Boring Americans and our Thanksgiving, Christmas and Easters all feel exactly the same. We always eat turkey, we always have to argue about who’s driving grandma home. It is usually sunny and it is usually cold. We scuttle to someone’s house in the early afternoon and disappear before it gets dark. We spend maybe three whole hours together on these holy days and we drive home in the eternal dark. No French toothaches and no traditions, no dinner at a long dining table, just slices of turkey, golf on the television, and my uncle drinking wine out of a coffee cup.
Happy holidays, guys.