A SHORT ESSAY ON CHRISTMAS
The commercial tells me that there are others like me; the commercial tells me that I am not the only one who cannot sleep; the commercial tells me that I am supposed to ask my doctor about the pills because, presumably, my doctor will not be the one to ask me if the pills are right for me; the doctor will let me know if the pills are right for me.
The house across the street wants to keep reminding me that they have more than me. They do this with their wreaths. They do this with their tree, their baby grand, their landscaping, their table set for high tea. The house across the street has a woman who lives in it who looks like she sells cashmere from her basement because that is what she does: she sells cashmere from her basement. The house across the street wants to keep reminding me that they have cashmere in their basement.
The commercial wants me to believe that I am not supposed to go to the bathroom too often during the day; the commercial wants me to believe that peeing may interrupt my shopping. I do pee very often during the day; I do pee often when I am out shopping. The people in the commercial are made of plumbing pipes, and they, having taken a pill so they no longer pee, are enjoying their day. I think that I very often pee and still enjoy my day.
I will win the grand prize from the grocery store; I keep buying the things I don't need for the prize pieces. While shopping for groceries, I very often have to pee.
In the movie, the Santa will die. In the movie, the Santa doesn't fit through the chimney. There's a stink that overtakes the whole street.
At Christmas dinner, one of my husband's cousins has a husband who has a phone that can do amazing things. I don't have such a phone but have often seen people using this phone to do amazing things. I have often seen the phone in commercials and on what is supposed to be news on my TV. The phone is supposed to be able to do amazing things.
The commercial wants me to know that I will be growing old; the commercial wants me to know that I will then need money; the commercial wants me to talk to a financial advisor; the commercial, for a moment, makes me believe that I indeed have money about which I can talk to a financial advisor.
At Christmas dinner four years ago, my husband and I were sat at the head of the family table, because I had just gotten a diamond.
The commercial wants me to know that if I have a problem accepting that I will be growing old that I should ask my doctor if this pill is right for me. The doctor presumably will not ask me if this pill is right for me. The commercial wants to tell me that there are many of us who look at a shoreline and grow afraid of getting old. There are many of us who see children playing and grow afraid. There are many of us who lose interest. There are many of us who cannot.
At Christmas dinner, there are several who are no longer among us; we don't mention that there are no place cards for them that so-and-so is still mourning that so-and-so will forever be mourning that so-and-so doesn't look too good this year that so-and-so has had a hard time remembering. At Christmas dinner, we think that in Christmas futures there will be several who are no longer among us.
The diamond commercial makes it clear that sex is taking or will be taking place; the commercial makes it clear that the sex is taking place or will be taking place precisely because of the diamond.
At Christmas dinner, there is no one with a new diamond; there is no engagement to ring in; there is no toast to anyone doing anything especially important. I have the new baby this year. The new baby is a good baby, is walking already, does not try to pull on the ornaments. I make a remark to my husband: we have a new baby; why aren't we at the nice table this year?; we haven't been at the nice table in four years.
The commercial doesn't show people: the commercial uses shadows instead. The commercial says that the diamond will outlive you; the diamond will remain when flesh has departed. I should not want anything then.
But I love my new handbag; I love my new charm. My daughter tugs on my diamond while nursing.
The commercial says that the way to treat this disease can lead to the disease.
In the movie, the man who dressed up like Santa only to die because he didn't fit and got caught in the chimney didn't have a thing; he didn't have much of anything; he wanted to at least give his family the gift of believing.
The house across the street wants to let me know that I have nothing.
My new baby still feels as if she's a dream.
On Christmas night, before sleeping, I ask my husband if he had to make a choice, what would he choose: to live forever and lose the ability to procreate or to be mortal and have our new baby?
In the diamond commercial, the shades come together and then move apart again. The commercial wants me to know that people cannot always stay together yet the diamond will remain.
At Christmas dinner, there are widows; there are—count them—three widows, and one of them just sits by the fire. I take pictures of the new baby in the arms of the eldest of them. What is her name? She can't remember.
My husband's cousin's husband's phone can do amazing things. He can take a picture of you, and then the phone ages you so you see yourself in forty years. He does it to me, even though I ask him not to. I plead with him to not do this to the new baby. He does it anyway. He shows the photo to me anyway. And so I have to see my baby as she will look in forty years.
I think that perhaps I would like to no longer pee; I think that I would like to no longer pee because whenever I pee I think about dying, which means, because I pee so often during the day, that I think about dying very often during the day, and because I often pee several times at night, I also think about dying very often during the night.
The sweepstakes will be over in February; I have not won anything; I do not have the winning pieces. I keep buying things I don't need just so I can play.
I teach my daughter to pee. I sit her on the baby potty and tell her to pee. Her pee stream hits the bowl with a precious sprinkling, a shaking of the tiniest of bells.
We both choose our daughter over immortality.
When we get back home, we are grateful for our Christmas tree, that it is fake, that we don't have to take it down right away.
What I thought was an essay about commercials turned out to be an essay about missing my father-in-law, who had passed away within weeks of my new daughter being born. I finished this essay the morning after Christmas.