Jarvis trudged through the snow with a scowl, thinking about how much he hated Chrismas. As he neared the shopping center, he tried to remember what was on his blasted Chrismas list . . . Ah yes, some black socks. Well, now was a good time for new socks, that much at least was true.
He entered the store, the bell ringing as the door shut behind him. A salesperson grinned at him.
“Last minute shopping, sir? We have all your last minute Chrismas needs and desires! Let me know if I can be of assistance in any way!”
Jarvis just shrugged the salesperson off. He tried to ignore the silvery, sparkly, annoying decorations that seemed to press in on him from all sides, snagging at him and fluttering against his forehead and blocking his way through the narrow aisles. Why was he here again?
Socks. Black socks.
He found the menswear aisle and grabbed the first pair he could find. They looked warm enough; most socks were this time of year. After scanning the purchase into his phone, he clicked ‘complete’ and closed down his Chrismas List for the season. Then he headed to the gift-wrap counter.
On his way home, he was half-tempted to open the box he had just purchased and put the new socks on his feet over the ones he was already wearing. It was so cold and his boots just didn’t keep out the moisture. But he didn’t do it. What would Lorreinna say?
When he reached the house, he stomped his feet at the door. “Hey, we’ve all been waiting for you!” said Lorreinna, after yanking the door open with excitement. “You ready to celebrate Chrismas or what?”
She just laughed when she saw his tired, resigned expression. “Lighten up, Jarvy. Everyone loves Chrismas but you, you silly man.”
They all gathered around the Chrismas tree then, ready to sing. Lorreinna went first. “I’d like to sing Jingle Bells,” she said. Everyone laughed and then started singing together. Jingle Bells was always the easy first choice.
Lorreinna’s mother, who was sitting on the other side of Lorreinna, was next. “Oh, I pick Santa Baby,” she said. Everyone laughed again. Another easy one. Jarvis realized that he would be the very last person to choose. Why did this always have to happen to him?
To his growing discomfort, every last Chrismas song he knew was being picked, one by one. Baby, It’s Cold Outside, White Chrismas, Walking In A Winter Wonderland, Last Chrismas I Gave you My Heart, It May Be Cold But You Keep Me Hot, My Day My Way, Spend Spend Spend…
And then suddenly it was his turn. One of his cousins smirked at him and he heard someone snicker. All eyes were on him. And he had drawn a blank.
“Just pick a song, Jarvis,” Lorreinna said impatiently. “We all want to open our presents!”
Jarvis blinked. “Frosty,” he finally sputtered. “Frosty the Snowman.” As everyone joined in, speeding up toward the end to finish quicker, Jarvis sat back and mouthed the words. He couldn’t believe no one had picked that one yet. Off the hook.
Then, it was time for the Gifts. “I’ll start!” Lorreinna called out.
“No way,” said Jarvis’ friend Melville. “It’s my turn. You started last year.” The bickering was beginning. Just another part of Chrismas that Jarvis hated. He tried to tune it out until someone yelled, “Enough!” It was Lorreinna’s daughter, Kylinesma.
“I’ll go first since I’m the youngest,” she said, ripping the wrapping paper off of one of her gifts before anyone could argue. Inside was a sparkly pink necklace.
“Thanks to me!” she called out gleefully. “I finally get to wear this! I’ve had it for months and you can’t even imagine how much self-control it took not to open it a moment sooner! Oh I love it! Don’t you love it?” She turned to Lorreinna with a satisfied smile and Lorreinna helped her clip it on.
“It’s beautiful, darling,” Lorreinna said. “You have great taste. But then, we all knew that.” Kylinesma beamed and then it was the next person’s turn.
Stevenson, Jarvis’ uncle, opened a long box to reveal a new golf club. “So glad I finally get to use this!” he crowed. He stood up to swing it a few times and show it off to everyone. “It took me months to save up for it and I can finally go to the Greens now and show off my best swing!” Everyone laughed and clapped him on the back, congratulating him.
When it was Jarvis’ turn he opened his gift. “Black socks,” he said sheepishly, holding them up for everyone to see. “They look warm. I–I didn’t have any black ones.” A few people murmured approval but then it was on to Lorreinna’s turn. She was much more showy and fun to watch than Jarvis ever was.
“Eeeee!” she squealed as she ripped open the smallest package in front of her. “A DIAMOND RING!” The room was full of shouts of congratulations and excitement as she slid the mass of sparkly diamonds and gold onto her finger.
Lorreinna glanced at Jarvis with an affectionate smile. “Everyone knows how much I’ve wanted this ever since Jarvy and I got together five years ago. Well, I finally have it. I’ve saved for sooo long and I finally have it.” She leaned over and gave Jarvis a kiss before getting up to show it off to the other women in the room. Only a few of the women looked openly envious.
Jarvis sat back, watching. The ring was so big. He should have known her ring would look like that, and yet for some reason he was a little sad now that he had seen it. He thought a smaller ring, with just one diamond to crown it, would have been much more beautiful. But he was glad that she finally had what she’d wanted for so long.
Jarvis was now, thankfully, eliminated from the circle of gift-openers since he’d only bought himself one gift. He got up to get a soda and watch from afar as the others continued with their merry-making. He finally wandered outside, despite the fact that it had started snowing again, and gazed out into the street behind the house.
No, he really couldn’t get the hang of Chrismas. The holiday traditions of everyone he knew, carried on the shoulders of the department stores, sports stores, entertainment stores, and toy stores, just sickened him every year. At least his family and friends weren’t religious. He knew that in some of the smaller villages, people still worshipped the ancient Snow King, Santaclaus. That would have made Chrismas truly unbearable.
Whoever Chris had been, and for whatever reason this holiday had started so many, many years ago, Jarvis was ready for it to be over. At least he had some black socks now. He went back inside to put them on.